What Can Fecal Pellets Tell Us About Cryptic Drywood Termites (Isoptera: Kalotermitidae)?

IRG/WP 09-20407

J K Grace

Drywood termites (Isoptera: Kalotermitidae) are serious economic pests of both plants and seasoned wood (furniture, wood frame structures). Currently, five species of kalotermitids are known to occur in the Hawaiian Islands: Neotermes connexus, Incisitermes immigrans, Incisitermes minor, Cryptotermes brevis, and Cryptotermes cynocephalis. These termites are difficult to detect and observe due to their cryptic habitat. Unlike termites that nest in the soil, and forage outward for wood, drywood termites nest directly in their food source. Often, the only outward sign of termite infestation is the presence of small fecal pellets, expelled from the gallery system through small holes in the wood surface. This report reviews recent research indicating that these fecal pellets may be a valuable source of information on the biology of these cryptic insects, including the identity of the termite species, the relative cellulose content of the food source, and the size and even the age of the population.

Keywords: Cryptotermes, Incisitermes, Kalotermitidae, termite biology

Conference: 09-05-24/28 Beijing, China

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