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What Do Termites Look Like? Termite Identification


Are termites eating your home?

What type of termite species could be eating your home?

There are 4 main types of termite species that eat homes on the Central Coast. They are


  • Coptotermes

  • Schedorhinotermes

  • Nasutitermes

  • Heterotemes


Surekill Pest and Termite Control Central Coast
Surekill Pest and Termite Control Central Coast


Coptotermes  infest 85% of Australian trees, so they are Australia wide. They enter trees through their roots and it is their 'tree piping' that produces the raw material for didgeridoo. They are experts at attacking buildings both hard and soft wood.

Soldiers:  Length 4.5-6.5 mm and heads are pear shaped and rounded laterally.  There is a milky exudate from the fontanelle on the anterior part of the head. No teeth are apparent on the mandible.

These aggressive soldiers can forage on up to 20 trees simultaneously.  They can travel underground about 50-70 metre from the parent colony in search of food. They avoid light and work under cover.

Nests: may be a mound, inside a tree or in the ground. They have densely populated colonies often exceeding 500 000 individuals. 

​Coptotermes acinaciformis are the most destructive termite species in Australia. They attack all types of timber structures and damage forest, ornamental and fruit trees.

Soil contact is desirable for them but not essential, provided that it has an assured moisture supply and security in its habitat. Colonies have been found on the top of multi-storey buildings where there is a constant water supply but no ground contact. Large colonies have also been found inside wooden barges that do not have contact with the ground, moisture being supplied through the timber from the fresh or salt water. Coptotermes acinaciformis have caused many fires and power/communication interruptions by damaging cable sheathing.

Surekill Pest and Termite Control Central Coast

Schedorhinotermes​m another title

Schedorhinotermes intermedius are found Australia wide.  They are close behind the coptotermes in causing economic damage to properties and the environment. 

Soldiers: there are two sizes of soldiers: major (length 5-7 mm) and minor (length 3-5 mm).  Minor soldiers have smaller colonies. However, once the nest is well established, major soldiers appear, increasing potential for more rapid timber damage.

The timber becomes a distinctively loose honeycomb shape from them eating it. Biting can take longer with schedorhinotermes as they only moult twice a year.

Nests: are almost always below the ground and are difficult to find, therefore the nests can be under houses, under filled-in patios, in fireplaces, in tree stumps, and trees.

Don't disturb Schedorhinotermes Termites! They are very timid and, if disturbed, they usually abandon their workings. They may reopen  and return to the gallery weeks later or maybe never. Disturbing this species often means they will just attack from another direction.


Surekill Pest and Termite Control Central Coast
Nasutitermes another title

Nasuitermes exitiosus are common in New South Wales and Canberra.

The soldiers have very dark heads, pointed at the front. Solders are the defenders of the colony and are also wingless and sterile. They have hard heads and are armed with a long, hollow snout through which they squirt a sticky thread to entangle invaders.

The workers are also wingless and sterile and comprise of 90% or more of the colony.  As their name implies they do the work: gathering the food; caring for the eggs; feeding the reproductives (eg the King and Queen) and the young; tunnelling and building.

Nasuititermes termites can do extensive damage to buildings. Termites feed on plant material but only a few kinds eat sound timber, thus causing damage to buildings, fences and similar structures.

Surekill Pest and Termite Control Central Coast
IHeterotermes another title

Heterotermes are found throughout Australia. This species is often encountered attacking posts, poles, fences and even flooring of houses. Weathered floooring, such as in timber decking and fences, is a favoured feeding site for Heterotermes and Heterotermes ferox.  They do not build mounds but form small colonies adjacent to other termite species.


The soliders are 4.75mm and have parallel-sided heads and prominent dark mandibles. The soliders are not as courageous as other termite species as they do not build mounds or have extensive gallery systems.


Both workers and soliders move slowly and have slender bodies compared with coptotermes. They plaster a mud mixture over their workings. The surface of affected timber, once the mud has been removed has a mottled appearance.


Termite Mounds

Termites colonies live in these mounds. There are thousands of different species of termites. The ones living in these mounds in outback Australia do not harm our properties. The four property destroying termites outlined above do make these types of mounds for their colony, however these mounds are undected in the ground. The mounds show us what is going on under the ground around our properties.


Termite Life Cycle


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