Knowing the right termite species which attack our properties is appropriate in order to employ the right strategy to control and manage them.
The threatening 10 invasive termite species in Malaysia in order of their importance are:
Scientifically known as Coptotermes gestroi.
The most common termite species found in Malaysia and responsible for up to 70% of the damages on interior wooden structures.
When disturbed, the soldier would exude a white fluid for defense purpose.
This species produce rattling sound, a mechanism used by soldier to warn off nest-mates by banging their head against the walls.
You may hear the sound during a quiet night if your house is infested with this species.
Their mud tubes are normally soft and they usually build carton nest (a type of sub nest) inside the infested area.
Scientifically known as Coptotermes curvignathus.
This is the second most important termite species after the Asian Subterranean termite.
It causes up to 20% of the total damage done in residential and commercial areas in Malaysia.
Its shape and color is very similar to that of the Asian Subterranean termite but their body size of almost double.
They usually attack live trees in the gardens or open areas for example soft-wood ornamentals like pines and palms but were also found to attack fruit trees like mango and other young ornamental trees.
On trees, they normally build mud sheath on trunks or branches.
Occasionally, they were also found to attack interior wooden structures like wooden door and window frames, wooden pallet in warehouses and so on.
This is the termite species that yearly kill more than 5% of oil palm trees planted in deep peat soil in Sarawak.
Scientifically known asOdontotermes spp.
This species mainly attack outdoor wooden structure but occasionally also attack interior structure.
It does not directly digest wooden materials they eat, but they use the materials to grow fungus (mushrooms) in their nest.
They are well known for their symbiotic association with a type of edible mushroom called Termitomyces albuminosa (Cendawan busut in Malay). These termites maintain the mush room garden inside their nest and consume material that has been decomposed by the mushroom.
If left uncontrolled, they could destroy a big mature tree.
Scientifically known asMacrotermes gilvus.
This species mainly attack trees in the gardens or open areas.
They are known to build hard earthen mound at the trunk base of a tree.
Like fungus growing termites, this termite species also grow fungus inside their nests.
You would see a lot of fungus balls on the inside wall of their nest when you break their mound.
It is one of the main termite pests in oil palm, rubber and coconut plantation.
Occasionally they also invade ornamental trees like palm trees and exterior woody materials in residential areas.
Scientifically known as Schedorhinotermes spp.
This species is mainly confined to outdoor if ever they invade your house.
They are always regarded as secondary termite species that use the existing tunnels or mud tubes that were previously built by the eliminated subterranean termite species in interior of premises or on a living garden tree.
This species normally feeds on dead woody materials like dead tree barks, branches, leaves, twigs and stumps found in gardens or open areas.
The soldiers have two forms, a major form and a minor form which is only half the size of the major. The minor solders move speedily like ants.
Scientifically known as Nasutitermes spp.
This species earn their name as the soldier has a distinct long snout on its head.
This species is commonly known as tree termite as they normally live and feed on tree and build their nest on the tree as well.
This species normally infests trees in the garden or forest.
Nevertheless, in some rare occasions, they also would attack wooden structures inside our house.
Scientifically this termite species is called Microcerotermes crassus.
The soldier has long head almost the length of its body.
This species is usually found in rural areas (villages or kampongs).
They normally build a solid and hard nest on trees or posts and infest our house from there.
They build thin and extensive mud tubes inside and outside of the house.
Their feeding rate is slow and damage on woody materials is not as serious as the other termite species.
Scientifically known asGlobitermes sulphureus.
Only feed on outdoor tree or ornamental plants if found in your house.
The soldier of this species can be recognized by their yellow (sulfur yellow) abdomen and two large and curved mouthpieces.
They often found attacking live plantation trees like rubber and oil palm.
This termite is well known for its suicidal behavior of the soldiers which liberate a sticky yellowish defensive secretion by rupturing their body.
Scientifically known asMacrotermes carbonarius.
This is the largest termite found in Southeast Asia.
Unlike most of the termite species that foraging in an enclosed environment, Black Macrotermes is one of the termite that is foraging in open areas. They build mound and grow fungus in their nest.
Black Macrotermes mostly feed on dead grass, twigs, and other plant debris and use them to grow fungus in their nest.
They are mainly found in the forest, rubber and coconut plantation and rarely found in residential areas.
Scientifically known asMicrotermes spp.
If they are found in your house, they would only attack outdoor plants especially palm tree
A distinct characteristic of this species is that the soldier would release a fluid with a lemon-like odor when disturbed.
The size of the soldier is about the same size of that of a worker.
They are opportunist as they would use existing or abandon mound of other species to be the nest.
This species is mainly found in forests and plantations like rubber and oil palm plantation but occasionally also attacks ornamental plants.