Biology of Invasive Termites: A Worldwide Review

Theodore A. Evans, Brian T. Forschler, J. Kenneth Grace

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapter

131 Citations (Scopus)


The number of recognized invasive termite species has increased from 17 in 1969 to 28 today. Fourteen species have been added to the list in the past 44 years; 10 have larger distributions and 4 have no reported change in distribution, and 3 species are no longer considered invasive. Although most research has focused on invasive termites in urban areas, molecular identification methods have answered questions about certain species and found that at least six species have invaded natural forest habitats. All invasive species share three characteristics that together increase the probability of creating viable propagules: they eat wood, nest in food, and easily generate secondary reproductives. These characteristics are most common in two families, the Kalotermitidae and Rhinotermitidae (which make up 21 species on the invasive termite list), particularly in three genera, Cryptotermes, Heterotermes, and Coptotermes (which together make up 16 species). Although it is the largest termite family, the Termitidae (comprising 70% of all termite species) have only two invasive species, because relatively few species have these characteristics. Islands have double the number of invasive species that continents do, with islands in the South Pacific the most invaded geographical region. Most invasive species originate from Southeast Asia. The standard control methods normally used against native pest termites are also employed against invasive termites; only two eradication attempts, in South Africa and New Zealand, appear to have been successful, both against Coptotermes species.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAnnual Review of Entomology
EditorsMay R. Berenbaum
Place of PublicationUSA
PublisherAnnual Reviews
Number of pages20
ISBN (Print)978-0-8243-0158-3
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAnnual Review of Entomology
ISSN (Print)0066-4170

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