Skip to content
Open From Monday - Sunday
Get $100 Off Your First Termite Treatment
Google icon

Types of Termites in Brisbane: Protect Your Home

termite management Brisbane
Updated: April 12, 2024
• Termite Choices

In Australia, termites, or ‘white ants’ as they are often called, present a significant challenge to homeowners and the environment alike. These social insects, classified into over 300 species, are known for their destructive habits. Among these, the types of termites commonly found in Australia, including Australian termites, pose a unique challenge due to their adaptability and voracious appetite for wood. Termite species in Australia, crucial for termite identification in Australia, vary widely, necessitating a keen understanding for effective management. subterranean, drywood, and dampwood termites, each with unique characteristics and habitats. Despite the large number of species, only a select few pose threats to human structures, making termite identification and understanding crucial for effective management and prevention. Their complex societies are composed of various castes such as workers, soldiers, and reproductives, each playing a specific role within the colony.

The importance of distinguishing between the different types of termites, such as subterranean termites, drywood termites, and dampwood termites, cannot be understated for property owners in regions prone to termite activity within Brisbane. Effective termite management plans, which include regular inspections and treatments, are essential in safeguarding homes against these pests, especially since termite damage is not covered by standard home insurance policies. This guide aims to delve into the challenges posed by termites in Brisbane, offering insights into their behaviour and control strategies, termite species, their impact, and comprehensive termite management strategies to help readers identify and protect their properties against these wood-eating insects. Understanding the different types of termites is crucial in formulating an effective defence strategy, making it easier to identify termites and take appropriate action.

Understanding Termites

Termites, often confused with ants due to their superficial similarities, have a unique societal structure, lifecycle, and ecological impact that set them apart. Unlike ants, termites, sometimes referred to as white termites due to their colour, have a soft body and straight antennae, and their colonies are divided into three distinct castes: workers, soldiers, and reproductives. The worker termites, which are sterile males and females, are responsible for foraging for food, caring for the young, and maintaining the nest. Soldier termites play a crucial role in protecting the colony from predators, while reproductives are the future kings and queens tasked with establishing new colonies.

  • Caste System and Roles:
    • Workers: Sterile males and females that forage for food and maintain the nest.
    • Soldiers: Protect the colony from threats.
    • Reproductives: Future kings and queens who initiate new colonies and lay eggs that become termite larvae.

Understanding the complex life cycle and societal structure of termites, alongside their environmental requirements and signs of infestation, is crucial for homeowners looking to protect their properties from these ‘silent destroyers’. Identifying termites early can be pivotal in preventing significant damage.

Types of Termite

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites are a significant concern in Australia due to their destructive habits. These termites, known as subterranean termites, require contact with soil or moisture to survive, often building their nests underground or within moist environments in trees. Their presence is widespread throughout Queensland, making them a common threat to timber structures in the region, emphasizing the need for vigilance against Queensland termites.

Subterranean termites’ ability to cause structural damage within a short period is alarming, with around one-third of unprotected properties at risk of attack. Their need for moisture drives them to build sophisticated tunnel systems to access moist soil or timber, making them particularly hard to detect and control. Modern termite control strategies, including termite treatments, baiting systems exploit their social feeding habits and need for a high humidity environment, offering a delayed lethal effect that can be passed throughout the colony using termite baiting systems.

Drywood Termites

Dry wood termites exhibit unique characteristics that distinguish them from other types of termites. Unlike their subterranean counterparts, these termites do not require contact with the soil, thriving instead on the moisture present within the wood they consume. Found across various regions of Queensland, these termites typically infest buildings through flight or the introduction of infested timber and furniture, making them a concern for homeowners in Queensland.

Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites, distinct for their preference for very damp environments, typically do not pose serious economic threats unless conditions allow them to thrive on old, moist timber. These termites favour wood in direct contact with soil or that remains moist due to environmental conditions like water leaks. They often target cypress pines due to their moisture-retaining properties.

Despite their less aggressive nature compared to subterranean and drywood termites, dampwood termites can still cause structural damage if left unchecked, particularly in humid or coastal areas where their preferred conditions are met.

Types of Termites in Brisbane

Cryptotermes Species Overview

In Queensland, the Cryptotermes species are a significant group within the termite family, comprising several key types that vary in habitat and behaviour, making Queensland a focal point for studying termite diversity.

Understanding the distinctions between the different types of termites is crucial for effective termite management and control. Subterranean species pose threats to structures by their ability to access buildings from the ground up, necessitating soil treatments for termite prevention. Conversely, drywood termites, capable of infesting buildings through airborne swarms or infested timber, require direct wood treatments or fumigation for termite protection. This highlights the importance of precise termite identification for homeowners and pest control professionals alike in Brisbane, ensuring targeted and effective termite treatment. treatment strategies are employed.

West Indian Drywood Termite (Cryptotermes brevis)

The West Indian Drywood Termite (WIDT) is a formidable pest in Queensland, recognised for its destructive impact on timber structures and furniture. As one of the most common termite types in Brisbane, WIDT’s characteristics and management are crucial for local homeowners to understand.

  • Locations
    • Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Maryborough, Bundabberg and most coastal areas.
  • Basic Characteristics:
    • Forms small colonies, often up to 1,000 individuals, capable of existing for over a decade. This termite colony’s longevity poses a significant threat to timber structures.
    • Survives entirely within timber, extracting necessary moisture from the wood, negating the need for soil contact.
    • Identification can be aided by spotting alates with medium-brown bodies and hairless wings or by soldiers with white bodies and dark, wrinkled heads, distinguishing them as brown termites.
  • Signs of Infestation:
    • Presence of frass, which is hexagonal in cross-section, near skirting boards or window sills.
    • Timber near frass piles may have small, sometimes sealed, holes indicating entry points.
  • Management and Control:
    • Immediate reporting of WIDT activity to authorities is advised.
    • Structural fumigation stands as the most effective treatment, though spot treatments may be viable in specific cases.
    • Under the Biosecurity Act 2014, there’s a general obligation to minimise the spread of this pest.

Recognising and addressing WIDT infestations promptly can help mitigate the severe structural damage they are capable of causing, ensuring the longevity and safety of wooden buildings and items.

Indo-Malaysian Drywood Termite (Cryptotermes cynocephalus)

The Indo-Malaysian Drywood Termite presents a unique challenge in Australia, particularly in warmer and more humid regions. This species is an invasive one, having been introduced and now known for impacting timber structures in coastal areas and adjacent tablelands. Despite its classification as of minor economic importance, understanding its characteristics and behaviour is essential for effective management.

Physical and Behavioural Characteristics:

  • Body Colour: Pale brown with a darker abdomen and creamy white jointed appendages.
  • Soldier Features: Soldiers are identifiable by their strongly V-shaped frontal flange, concave black head with an orange posterior, short and stout mandibles with weak teeth, and very small, rudiment-like eyes. They measure between 2.5 3.7mm.
  • Preferred Habitat: This termite species has a broad range, found in the Philippines, Australia, Papua New Guinea, Hawaii, and has been introduced to Sri Lanka.

Dietary Preferences:

  • The species feeds on a variety of wood species, including Falcataria moluccana (most preferred), Acacia mangium, Gmelina arborea, Swietenia macrophylla, and Eucalyptus deglupta.
  • Notably, Oleic Acid isolated from Cerbera manghasTermidor termite treatment has been found effective against this termite species, suggesting potential for targeted pest control measures.

This termite’s adaptability to different wood types and the effectiveness of specific chemical treatments highlight the importance of tailored strategies for its control and management in affected Australian regions.

Domestic Drywood Termite (Cryptotermes domesticus)

The Domestic Drywood Termite is an invasive species with a significant presence across various regions, including northern Australia. Its characteristics and impact are outlined as follows:

  • Origin and Distribution:
    • Native to South East AsiaThis species boasts a widespread presence from India, China, Taiwan, through the Indo-Malayan region, and extending to Australia, Oceania, and Panama.
    • Introduced to the South Pacific and Central America, predominantly through vessels and boats.
  • Habitat and Behaviour:
    • Prefers structural timber, flooring, doors, and furniture within houses, forming small colonies.
    • Found in specific natural habitats such as mangroves (Ceriops tagalThis termite species is found in the Northern Territory and on coconut stumps, Sapindus logs, mango, and dead coffee trees, showing a preference for woods like turpentine, red ironbark, and satinay.
    • Nests and feeds on dead trunks and timber, creating galleries inside the wood and excreting six-sided frass.
  • Physical Characteristics:
    • Soldiers have a glabrous, dark brown to black head capsule, measuring between 3.25 and 5.90 mm.
    • The imago features a pale yellow-brown colouration, with the anterior portion of the head paler than the rest, and hyaline or faintly tinged brown wings, characteristic of flying termites.

Despite being considered a minor pest with minor economic importance in Australia, its status as one of the most important termites causing damage to wood in China underscores the variability of its impact based on geographical location.

Native drywood termite (Cryptotermes primus)

The Native drywood termite, a species indigenous to Australia, exhibits unique characteristics and behaviours that differentiate it from its invasive counterparts like the West Indian drywood termite and subterranean termites. This distinction is particularly notable in regions like Brisbane, where understanding local termite species, such as termites in Brisbane, is crucial for effective pest management.Cryptotermes brevis). Predominantly found in Queensland and southern New South Wales, Cryptotermes primus forms smaller colonies compared to other species, which typically consist of soldiers, alates, and immature reproductives.

Key Characteristics:

  • Colony Size: Small, with up to 200 individuals.
  • Physical Appearance: Soldiers are pale cream with short, thick, dark heads and steeply sloping fronts, measuring between 4mm and 6mm in length. Alates exhibit a pale yellow-brown color.
  • Habitat: Prefers nesting in branch stubs, dead stumps, or fire scars, feeding primarily on cellulose from wood found in forest trees.

Despite its presence, Cryptotermes primus is considered less destructive and not an economically significant termite due to the low incidence of attack on timber in service. The species nests in small isolated pockets within the dead wood of living trees and timber in service, creating clean galleries that are free of soil. The presence of dry, pellet-like frass with well-defined edges is a distinguishing feature of infestation. This termite prefers softer, less dense timbers such as pine, red cedar, and maple, which can lead to damage in timber buildings, including house stumps, floors, skirting boards, beams, furniture, and fence posts.


Through this comprehensive exploration of Australia’s diverse termite species, from the subterranean termites’ underground assault to the drywood and dampwood termites’ above-ground invasions, we uncover the intricate balance of nature and the formidable challenge these creatures pose to human habitation in Brisbane. The identification and understanding of each termite’s unique behaviour, habitat preferences, and impact on structures form an essential foundation for effective termite management and prevention strategies in Brisbane.

The significance of regular inspections and tailored termite management strategies cannot be overstated in the quest to protect homes from the extensive damage termites are known to cause. Wherever you are in Brisbane or any other termite-prone region in Australia, taking proactive measures, including termite inspection and pre-purchase termite inspection, is crucial. For those seeking further guidance or needing comprehensive termite solutions, do not hesitate to request a quote to secure your property against these hidden threats. By staying informed and vigilant about termites in Brisbane, we can mitigate the risks posed by these pests and preserve the integrity of our homes for years to come. Understanding the various types of termites found in Brisbane is key to effective prevention and management.

A termite inspector in a protective suit holding a pesticide sprayer.

Book Your Pre-Purchase Termite Inspection Today!

At Termite Choices, we're committed to providing effective and reliable termite solutions that safeguard your property year-round. Get in touch with us to schedule your annual termite inspection today.

Request A Quote