West Indian drywood termite

  • West Indian drywood termites with wings and a soldier
    West Indian drywood termites with wings and a soldier
  • Frass of the West Indian drywood termite
    Frass of the West Indian drywood termite
The West Indian drywood termite is a notifiable disease under the Diseases in Timber Act 1975. If you find evidence of West Indian drywood termite activity, contact the department's Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.

General information

The West Indian drywood termite is an introduced species in Australia and considered the world´s most destructive drywood termite. It has caused considerable economic damage to timber-in-service in Brisbane, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Rockhampton and Townsville.

Drywood termites generally cause moderate damage to timber structures in coastal areas and adjacent tablelands in Queensland. Each of the four introduced species has a restricted distribution within this zone, but the native species (Cryptotermes primus) is more widespread. Other native species are of little economic importance.

Knowing the habits of drywood termites and regular house inspections are the best insurance against these pests. The West Indian drywood termite is restricted matter and the department must be notified of its possible presence. Treatment, at present, is undertaken and supervised without cost to the householder. Accurate species identification is recommended  before treatment is implemented. Find out more about drywood termites in Queensland.

Scientific name      

Cryptotermes brevis (introduced)

Recognising infestations      
  • Drywood termite infestations are recognised by piles of frass (faecal pellets) associated with timber that may conceal extensive termite galleries.
  • West Indian drywood termite frass from hoop pine is characteristically reddish brown, gradually turning black with age.
  • Typically, its frass is larger and more pointed than that produced by the native drywood termite, C. primus.
  • Drywood termite frass can be distinguished from ant debris, which contains fibres or parts of dead insects.
  • Careful examination of timber close to the frass pile will reveal a small hole (1 mm diameter) but this may be sealed and difficult to see.
  • Infestations may be discovered accidentally by breaking into a gallery in floor boards or window sills.
  • Rarely, collections of termite wings may be found around windows or in the corners of rooms.
Similar species      
  • Cryptotermes primus, the native drywood termite: relatively widespread and common in the sapwood of house stumps
  • Cryptotermes cynocephalus (introduced): occurs around Cairns and further north
  • Cryptotermes domesticus (introduced): occurs around Cairns and further north. Causes substantial damage to houses, furniture posts and stumps
  • Cryptotermes dudleyi (introduced): established on Thursday Island.
Timber at risk      
  • West Indian drywood termite attack is restricted to construction timber, furniture and, rarely, paper
  • most commonly found in pine, especially hoop pine and cabinet woods such as maples (Flindersia species), red cedar (Toona australis) and silky oak (Grevillea robusta).
What to do      
  • If you find evidence of West Indian drywood termite activity, collect a sample of the frass or termite wings and, if possible, several soldiers. Contact our Customer Service Centre for advice.

Last updated 09 May 2013