Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Datasheet

Coptotermes curvignathus
(rubber termite)

Toolbox

Datasheet

Coptotermes curvignathus (rubber termite)

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 21 November 2019
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Invasive Species
  • Pest
  • Natural Enemy
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • Coptotermes curvignathus
  • Preferred Common Name
  • rubber termite
  • Taxonomic Tree
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •   Kingdom: Metazoa
  •     Phylum: Arthropoda
  •       Subphylum: Uniramia
  •         Class: Insecta
  • Summary of Invasiveness
  • C. curvignathus has not been introduced to new geographical areas, but given that it can nest in tree trunks and form new nests from fragments of the colony that contain nymphs, there is a potential risk of introductions occurring. Its wide host rang...

Don't need the entire report?

Generate a print friendly version containing only the sections you need.

Generate report

Pictures

Top of page
PictureTitleCaptionCopyright
Coptotermes curvignathus (rubber termite); soldiers (S), workers (W) and nymphs (N).
TitleCastes
CaptionCoptotermes curvignathus (rubber termite); soldiers (S), workers (W) and nymphs (N).
Copyright©Laurence G. Kirton
Coptotermes curvignathus (rubber termite); soldiers (S), workers (W) and nymphs (N).
CastesCoptotermes curvignathus (rubber termite); soldiers (S), workers (W) and nymphs (N).©Laurence G. Kirton
Coptotermes curvignathus (rubber termite); habit - attack on the trunk of a large tree (felled). The soil covering the trunk has been removed showing the termites and holes penetrating into the living tissue of the tree.
TitleFelled tree attacked by termites
CaptionCoptotermes curvignathus (rubber termite); habit - attack on the trunk of a large tree (felled). The soil covering the trunk has been removed showing the termites and holes penetrating into the living tissue of the tree.
Copyright©Laurence G. Kirton
Coptotermes curvignathus (rubber termite); habit - attack on the trunk of a large tree (felled). The soil covering the trunk has been removed showing the termites and holes penetrating into the living tissue of the tree.
Felled tree attacked by termitesCoptotermes curvignathus (rubber termite); habit - attack on the trunk of a large tree (felled). The soil covering the trunk has been removed showing the termites and holes penetrating into the living tissue of the tree.©Laurence G. Kirton

Identity

Top of page

Preferred Scientific Name

  • Coptotermes curvignathus Holmgren

Preferred Common Name

  • rubber termite

Other Scientific Names

  • Coptotermes flavicephalus Oshima
  • Coptotermes robustus Holmgren

International Common Names

  • English: Hevea termite

EPPO code

  • COPTCU (Coptotermes curvignathus)

Summary of Invasiveness

Top of page
C. curvignathus has not been introduced to new geographical areas, but given that it can nest in tree trunks and form new nests from fragments of the colony that contain nymphs, there is a potential risk of introductions occurring. Its wide host range also gives it the potential to colonize new habitats in new geographical areas.

Taxonomic Tree

Top of page
  • Domain: Eukaryota
  •     Kingdom: Metazoa
  •         Phylum: Arthropoda
  •             Subphylum: Uniramia
  •                 Class: Insecta
  •                     Order: Isoptera
  •                         Family: Rhinotermitidae
  •                             Genus: Coptotermes
  •                                 Species: Coptotermes curvignathus

Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature

Top of page
In early literature, there has been some confusion on the identity of the species. Early references to the species use the name Coptotermes gestroi, which is a different species that does not actively attack living trees. This confusion was resolved when Holmgren (1913) recognized and described C. curvignathus as a species distinct from C. gestroi, but the species was still sometimes referred to as C. gestroi (Kalshoven, 1963) and the geographic range of the species is still sometimes confused with that of C. gestroi (see Geographical Distribution). Coptotermes elisae is a species rather similar in morphology and habits, which occurs in the Papuan region (Gay, 1963; Gray, 1968).

C. curvignathus is sometimes called the rubber termite or Hevea termite because its economic importance was first felt in the rubber industry. The pest often caused death of rubber trees in plantations.

Description

Top of page

The morphology of C. curvignathus is described in detail by Tho (1992). It is the largest species of Coptotermes in Asia. Species of the genus Coptotermes are recognized by the large frontal opening on the head of the soldier, from which they are able to exude a white, sticky latex used in defence. The latex is stored in a gland in the abdomen, and gives the abdomen a conspicuous white colour.

The alates of C. curvignathus are distinguished from other species of Coptotermes by their large size. Eggs are small, round and white. The nymphs are also white. The workers are difficult to differentiate from other species of Coptotermes except on the basis of size. They are differentiated from the soldier caste in having paler head capsules and abdomens that are not as white. The soldiers have yellow head capsules. When viewed dorsally, the margins of the head capsule can be seen to curve in strongly towards the mandibles. The mandibles of the soldier are also very strongly in-curved compared to other species of Coptotermes (Tho, 1992).

Distribution

Top of page
C. curvignathus has a general distribution from Thailand and Indochina to Sulawesi. Though there are no published records of the species occurring on some Indonesian islands, it is likely that it occurs through most of the Indonesian archipelago. It does not occur in Burma [Myanmar] and India (Roonwal and Chhotani, 1962). References to it occurring in these countries are most likely to have been due to confusion between C. gestroi and C. curvignathus before the latter was described as a species distinct from the former (see Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature).

Distribution Table

Top of page

The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Last updated: 10 Jan 2020
Continent/Country/Region Distribution Last Reported Origin First Reported Invasive Reference Notes

Asia

BruneiPresent
CambodiaPresentNative
IndonesiaPresentNative
-JavaPresentNative
-SulawesiPresentNative
-SumatraPresentNative
MalaysiaPresentNative
-Peninsular MalaysiaPresentNative
-SabahPresentNative
-SarawakPresentNative
SingaporePresentNative
ThailandPresent
VietnamPresentNative

Risk of Introduction

Top of page
The risk of introduction of C. curvignathus is not as high as for drywood termites (e.g., Cryptotermes and Incisitermes) or some species of Coptotermes that more readily initiate nests in isolated pieces of timber (e.g., C. formosanus and C. gestroi). However, C. curvignathus could be accidentally introduced to new areas through importation of infested logs, whether or not these are debarked. The termite itself, however, is not a species that is traded internationally or locally.

C. curvignathus is listed as a pest of quarantine concern in China, New Zealand and Australia.

Habitat

Top of page

C. curvignathus occurs in a range of natural habitats, including lowland and hill dipterocarp forest, peat swamps and coastal forests (Kirton, 1995). It is particularly abundant in peat swamps and coastal hill dipterocarp forest, where it may occur close to the shoreline. However, it does not occur in mangroves. It is relatively scarce in the inland dipterocarp forests that dominate much of South-East Asia (Abe, 1979; Salick and Tho, 1984), but can become more abundant when such areas are converted to agricultural and forest plantations, if the species planted is susceptible to attack (Kirton et al., 1999a). It can also occur in urban areas wherever trees are planted.

Habitat List

Top of page
CategorySub-CategoryHabitatPresenceStatus
Terrestrial ManagedCultivated / agricultural land Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedProtected agriculture (e.g. glasshouse production) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged forests, plantations and orchards Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedManaged grasslands (grazing systems) Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedDisturbed areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedRail / roadsides Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial ManagedUrban / peri-urban areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural forests Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalNatural grasslands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalRiverbanks Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalWetlands Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
Terrestrial Natural / Semi-naturalDeserts Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)
LittoralCoastal areas Present, no further details Harmful (pest or invasive)

Hosts/Species Affected

Top of page
C. curvignathus generally attacks plants with woody stems. It does not affect grasses, shrubs or herbaceous plants. Often, large- to medium-sized trees are attacked, but seedlings with very small woody stems are also attacked in plantations. A very large number of tree species has been reported to be attacked by C. curvignathus, including conifers, monocotyledonous and dicotyledonous plants (see Ridley, 1909; Kalshoven, 1963; Tho and Kirton, 1992). Some tree species appear resistant, whereas others appear particularly susceptible. Among the most susceptible tree species are coniferous species such as Pinus spp., Araucaria spp. and Agathis spp. (Thapa and Shim, 1971; Tho, 1974; Tho and Kirton, 1992, 1998).

Growth Stages

Top of page
Post-harvest, Vegetative growing stage

Symptoms

Top of page
The symptoms of attack have been described by a number of authors (e.g., Kalshoven, 1963; Tho and Kirton, 1992; Kirton, 1998; Kirton and Wong, 2001). Attack by C. curvignathus usually takes place externally on the tree trunk. The most obvious symptom is a layer of earth or mud on the surface of the trunk, which is usually coloured with partially digested organic material. This earthen layer may form a patch or encircle the tree. It commonly occurs at the base but may occur at the upper regions of the trunk. Sometimes the soil on the trunk may not be conspicuous, especially if the bark texture is fissured and rough. It may also be very restricted, or may not be present at all. In this case, the infestation is usually internal and may occur through the roots. If the soil layer on the tree trunk is scraped away, the bark can be seen to be riddled with holes that often expose the wood of the tree. Termites can also be seen and, if disturbed, the soldiers, which have yellow heads, produce a white latex from a frontal gland on their head.

As attack on a tree progresses, the leaves on the tree show some signs of yellowing and wilting. At an advanced stage, the leaves turn brown and fall off, and the tree dies. It is not uncommon for trees to be abandoned by the termites at an early stage in the attack. In such cases, the tree usually recovers from the damage caused by the termites.

In young oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) and coconut (Cocos nucifera) trees, the termite attacks the 'spear' (terminal growing point) of the tree (Kalshoven, 1963; Mariau et al., 1992; Lim and Bit, 2001). Soil trails are usually visible on the trunk and there are usually signs of soil around the spear as well.

List of Symptoms/Signs

Top of page
SignLife StagesType
Growing point / dieback
Growing point / dieback
Growing point / external feeding
Growing point / external feeding
Stems / dead heart
Stems / dead heart
Stems / discoloration
Stems / discoloration
Stems / external feeding
Stems / external feeding
Stems / gummosis or resinosis
Stems / gummosis or resinosis
Stems / internal discoloration
Stems / internal discoloration
Stems / internal feeding
Stems / internal feeding
Stems / lodging; broken stems
Stems / lodging; broken stems
Stems / odour
Stems / odour
Stems / ooze
Stems / ooze
Whole plant / early senescence
Whole plant / early senescence
Whole plant / external feeding
Whole plant / external feeding
Whole plant / internal feeding
Whole plant / internal feeding
Whole plant / plant dead; dieback
Whole plant / plant dead; dieback
Whole plant / seedling blight
Whole plant / seedling blight
Whole plant / wilt
Whole plant / wilt

Biology and Ecology

Top of page

Reproductive Biology

The reproductive biology of C. curvignathus has been little studied, but some generalisations can be made from information on related species. Like all termites, C. curvignathus is a social insect, living in colonies founded by an adult male (king) and female (queen). Progeny of the king and queen develop through a number of nymphal stages, which are functionally worker stages, to form 'workers' and soldiers. The workers forage and construct nest galleries, whereas the soldiers are responsible for defence. In the early stages of colony foundation, the adult male and female feed the young nymphs that hatch from the eggs, but once the colony is established, this task is taken over by the workers, who also feed the king and queen. At this stage, the abdomen of the queen gradually becomes enlarged and can reach a considerable size (physiogastric queen). Once the colony is large, winged adults (alates) may develop from the nymphs. These winged adults swarm at night, usually after rain. The production of alates and timing of swarming is related to environmental factors and can be seasonal. After swarming, pairs of alates shed their wings and form new colonies in suitable wood material on the ground or in scar tissue on trees. Should the queen die, the colony can usually replace the queen by the production of a neotenic reproductive that develops from a nymph. Such queens have characteristics of a worker rather than characteristics of an adult winged form. Nests of C. curvignathus have been found in the ground, in tree stumps or logs on the ground and in the tree trunks of living trees (Pratt, 1909; Towgood, 1909). However, the termite is able to attack trees located well away from the nest (Pratt, 1909).

Physiology

C. curvignathus, like other members of the Rhinotermitidae, relies on protozoan symbionts in the gut to digest the cellulose in wood. In the case of C. curvignathus, the major genera of protozoan symbionts are species of Pseudotrichonympha, Holomastigotoides and Spirotrichonympha (Sajap and Lardizabal, 1998). Rhinotermitidae do not have an association with fungal symbionts that are associated with higher termites. C. curvignathus is unusual among termites in being able to attack and kill large living trees. Most other termites feed on dead wood material and only affect living plants opportunistically, such as when they are dehydrated or stressed.

Associations

Although the termite attacks apparently healthy trees, attack is thought to be more likely when the bark is damaged by stem borers such as cerambycids and scolytids (Kalshoven, 1961; Kirton et al., 1999b). Fungal heart rot can also predispose trees to attack (Kirton et al., 1999b). Conversely, attack by the termite is associated with saprophytic fungi and bacteria that invade the damaged bark and wood of the living tree beneath the soil layer that the termites construct over the tree trunk. Trees that are killed often snap eventually. Succession by other termite species such as species of Macrotermitinae is common at this stage and can be wrongly associated with the death of the tree.

Natural enemies

Top of page
Natural enemyTypeLife stagesSpecificityReferencesBiological control inBiological control on
Metarhizium anisopliae Pathogen

Notes on Natural Enemies

Top of page
Little is known about the natural enemies of C. curvignathus, but it appears likely that natural biological control has only a small influence on the pest population. The termite is thought to be preyed upon by the pangolin, Manis javanica (Wood, 1968) but the impact of this predator is likely to be minimal, as it affects mainly foraging parties of workers and accompanying soldiers rather than the nest itself, as the termite nests underground and in the trunks of trees. It is likely that a number of species of entomophagous fungi and nematodes also exert a small degree of natural control on the population.

Means of Movement and Dispersal

Top of page
Natural Dispersal

Lower termites such as the Kalotermitidae and Rhinotermitidae are among the early colonizers of islands devastated by volcanic eruptions or new landmasses (Abe, 1984; Yamane et al., 1992). It is believed that one of their routes of dispersal could be by rafting across seas in pieces of timber. Some species of Coptotermes have wide distributions across archipelagos that suggest an ability to disperse naturally; however, the risk of natural introductions of this sort over a small geological timescale is very low.

Dispersal in Components of Sea Vessels

Some species of Coptotermes are known to be able to nest in damp wooden components of ships and sailing vessels (Kirton and Brown, 2003). Alates that may swarm from such colonies could invade new geographical areas. However, whether or not survival on board sailing vessels is possible in C. curvignathus specifically has not been verified.

Movement in Trade

The most likely route of dispersal of C. curvignathus to new geographical areas is through trade in logs, as it is able to nest in the heart of tree trunks, even when the trees are living. The alates or flying forms may also be carried under the loose bark of logs or on wood packaging material transported from one country to another.

Plant Trade

Top of page
Plant parts liable to carry the pest in trade/transportPest stagesBorne internallyBorne externallyVisibility of pest or symptoms
Growing medium accompanying plants arthropods/adults; arthropods/nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Roots arthropods/adults; arthropods/nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Stems (above ground)/Shoots/Trunks/Branches arthropods/adults; arthropods/eggs; arthropods/nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Wood arthropods/adults; arthropods/eggs; arthropods/nymphs Yes Pest or symptoms usually visible to the naked eye
Plant parts not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Bark
Bulbs/Tubers/Corms/Rhizomes
Flowers/Inflorescences/Cones/Calyx
Fruits (inc. pods)
Leaves
Seedlings/Micropropagated plants
True seeds (inc. grain)

Wood Packaging

Top of page
Wood Packaging not known to carry the pest in trade/transport
Loose wood packing material
Non-wood
Processed or treated wood
Solid wood packing material with bark
Solid wood packing material without bark

Impact Summary

Top of page
CategoryImpact
Animal/plant collections Negative
Animal/plant collections Negative
Animal/plant products Negative
Animal/plant products Negative
Biodiversity (generally) Positive
Biodiversity (generally) Positive
Crop production Negative
Crop production Negative
Environment (generally) Positive
Environment (generally) Positive
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Fisheries / aquaculture None
Forestry production Negative
Forestry production Negative
Human health None
Human health None
Livestock production None
Livestock production None
Native fauna Positive
Native fauna Positive
Native flora Negative
Native flora Negative
Rare/protected species None
Rare/protected species None
Tourism None
Tourism None
Trade/international relations Negative
Trade/international relations Negative
Transport/travel Negative
Transport/travel Negative

Impact

Top of page
C. curvignathus affects the agricultural, silvicultural and horticultural sectors. In agriculture, it is a serious pest of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) grown on peat soils in Malaysia (Lim and Bit, 2001) and coconut grown on peat soils in Indonesia (Mariau et al., 1992). It is also reported to be a serious pest of rubber (Hevea brasiliensis), although on land that has been long planted and replanted with rubber, the incidence of attack appears to lower. Among forest plantation trees, species of pines are known to be very susceptible, with complete losses having been reported in some plantations (Benedict, 1971; Tho, 1974).

Economic Impact

Top of page
C. curvignathus affects the agricultural, silvicultural and horticultural sectors. In agriculture, it is a serious pest of oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) grown on peat soils in Malaysia (Lim and Bit, 2001) and coconut grown on peat soils in Indonesia (Mariau et al., 1992). It is also reported to be a serious pest of rubber (Hevea brasiliensis), although on land that has been long planted and replanted with rubber, the incidence of attack appears to lower. Among forest plantation trees, species of pines are known to be very susceptible, with complete losses having been reported in some plantations (Benedict, 1971; Tho, 1974).

Environmental Impact

Top of page
In natural habitats in which C. curvignathus occurs, it fulfils a useful role in the removal of weak and injured trees, forest gap formation and nutrient recycling. In plantations, the extensive use of organochlorine pesticides to control this pest in the past has left a current environmental hazard (Tho and Kirton, 1992), as these chemicals are extremely persistent in the environment and pose a threat to many forms of wildlife.

Impact: Biodiversity

Top of page
Although C. curvignathus is a pest in man-made environments, it is an important biological component of natural habitats, particularly low-diversity habitats such as peat swamps. It performs a useful function in forest-gap creation, a phenomenon studied in Microcerotermes dubius (Tho, 1982), which contributes towards increased biodiversity and natural regeneration.

Social Impact

Top of page
By virtue of its ability to kill large trees, C. curvignathus has a significant impact on the aesthetic effect of landscaped environments. It may also adversely affect the livelihoods of small plantation and farm owners if it occurs in the planting site and susceptible tree species are grown.

Diagnosis

Top of page
Species of Coptotermes are not easily identified. Differences between species are slight. Therefore, a diagnosis is best made by reference to a specialist familiar with termite identification, in a museum, institute or university.

Detection and Inspection

Top of page
C. curvignathus can be detected by inspecting the tree trunk carefully, looking for signs of soil on the trunk and opening these to see if the termite is present. If an internal infestation is suspected, a small core can be drilled from the tree trunk. Trees with infestations will have some soil or carton material in the heart of the trunk.

Logs infested with C. curvignathus are likely to have internal galleries (tunnels) that show as holes on the cut surfaces of the logs. Such holes could indicate the presence of a nest inside the log, however, they could also indicate an old, abandoned infestation. Sometimes soil may also be visible. Introductions to new geographic areas can also occur through the flying forms or alates. Wood material can be inspected for these alates, which are likely to have shed their wings, particularly between pieces of wood in contact with each other and wherever there is moisture.

Similarities to Other Species/Conditions

Top of page
Attack by C. curvignathus can be confused with the activity of other harmless termite species that build earthen layers on tree trunks as they forage. Species of Odontotermes, in particular, are known to do this. In general, the soil layers built by the latter are thinner and drier and do not have any organic material in them. More importantly, beneath the soil layer, the bark can be seen to have been fed on superficially, without any holes penetrating into the wood of the tree. Also, if the termites are still present, their soldiers will be seen to lack the latex-exuding defence behaviour of Coptotermes.

Attack by Microcerotermes dubius, another species of termite that can kill large living trees in South-East Asia, can be differentiated by the rough and less even layers of soil they build on the tree trunks. Also, M. dubius usually builds a nest-like structure on the surface of the tree trunk. This species also tends to be more restricted to natural habitats than C. curvignathus.

Prevention and Control

Top of page

Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.

Phytosanitary Measures

Logs being exported from countries where C. curvignathus occurs should be debarked to reduce the risk of transporting alates that could found new colonies. Fumigation of logs or wood material at the port of origin will also reduce the risk of transporting nests, colony fragments or alates.

Cultural Control and Sanitary Methods

Ensuring good tree health is likely to reduce the risk of attack by C. curvignathus. Trees that are nutrient deficient, water-stressed or grown in waterlogged areas may be more prone to attack (Thapa and Shim, 1971; Tho and Kirton, 1992, 1998). Thinning should be conducted at suitable periods to ensure trees are not grown in crowded, light-deprived situations. Mechanical injury to trees from machines or weeding exercises should be minimised. Where pruning is conducted, the wounds need to be properly dressed to reduce the likelihood of these becoming routes of entry into the tree for the termite (Kirton et al., 1999b). The control of bark and stem borers is also important because wounds from borers can predispose trees to attack by C. curvignathus as well (Kalshoven, 1961; Kirton et al., 1999b). Although it has often been suggested that wood debris on the planting site provides food sources and breeding sites for the termite and, thus, it has been strongly advocated that all wood debris be cleared and burnt before planting, recent evidence shows otherwise (Kirton et al., 1999a). In reality, the termite is seldom found on wood residues in plantations but attacks trees more frequently. Host susceptibility and residual populations of C. curvignathus in the original planting site are the factors that have the largest impact on subsequent attack on plantation trees. The removal of wood debris has limited value, and may only serve to reduce suitable sites for colony establishment in plantations of tree species in which the termite is unable to nest in the trunks.

Host-Plant Resistance

Although C. curvignathus attacks a wide range of hosts, some tree species are noticeably less susceptible to attack. Among the more resistant is teak (Tectona grandis). Acacia mangium is equally susceptible to attack as species of conifers (Pinus, Araucaria, etc.) but is less prone to mortality from attack (Kirton et al., 1999a). Species-site matching should take into consideration the susceptibility of the tree species to C. curvignathus and the likelihood of attack in the planting site, based on a knowledge of the habitat and site history (see under Species-Site Matching).

Tree Species-Site Matching

Wherever possible, trees should be matched with sites on the basis of their relative resistance to attack and the risk posed by the planting site (Kirton, 1998). Planting sites originating from land cleared of peat swamps pose a high risk of attack. Planting sites derived from logged over lowland dipterocarp forest pose a moderate risk, whereas sites derived from secondary vegetation dominated by bushes and small trees or grassland pose a lesser threat. Tree species that are particularly susceptible, such as pines, are best planted on sites that pose a low risk, whereas sites that pose a high risk are best planted with resistant tree species.

Biological Control

The use of entomophagous nematodes and entomopathogenic fungi to control species of Coptotermes has been largely experimental and laboratory-based, and most of the work has focussed on C. formosanus. The histopathology of infection by entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae in C. curvignathus has been investigated in the laboratory (Sajap and Kaur, 1990), while field-derived cultures of Conidiobolus coronatus have been demonstrated to be highly pathogenic to C. curvignathus (Sajap et al., 1997).

Chemical Control

Chemical control is the most commonly practised method of control for C. curvignathus. Three general methods exist, that is the use of termiticides, chitin synthesis inhibitors and fumigants.

Termiticides

Termiticides are insecticides formulated for use against termites. Among the insecticides used for this purpose are chlorpyrifos, cypermethrin, alpha-cypermethrin and new generation insecticides such as fipronil and imidacloprid. The use of organochlorine insecticides has been discontinued because of the persistent nature of these insecticides in the environment and their harmful long-term effects on wildlife. Termiticides are usually applied to the soil to form a chemical barrier that protects the tree against termite attack. These chemicals last for several months to a few years depending on the characteristics of the chemical, the concentration used and the site conditions. Chlorpyrifos, for example, has been shown to give at least 4 years protection to Gmelina arborea grown in Sabah (Chey, 1996b). The chemicals may be applied as a granular formulation or in liquid form, diluted in water. Prophylactic treatment can be used for highly susceptible tree species grown in medium- to high-risk sites, but is not cost effective when the termite hazard is low. Prophylactic treatment involves the application of the termiticides (usually in granular form for ease of application) into the planting hole, mixed with the soil, at the time seedlings are transplanted from the nursery into the field (Tho and Kirton, 1992). Remedial treatment is carried out when trees are attacked by termites, and is usually done by drenching the soil surrounding the tree using a water-soluble insecticide formulation. A furrow or drain is dug around the tree to contain the chemical as it seeps into the ground (Tho and Kirton, 1992) but better results can probably be obtained if the soil surrounding the tree trunk is shallowly excavated and the chemical is applied to the trunk and allowed to seep into the ground close to the tree.

Chitin Synthesis Inhibitors

These hormones or insect growth regulators are used in a baiting technique that allows the chemical to be taken back to the nest by foraging workers, thereby causing the gradual collapse of the colony from the death of the queen and nymphs. The chemical interferes with the normal moulting process of the termites and the production of eggs by the queen. Hexaflumuron and triflumuron are examples of such chitin synthesis inhibitors; however, they are largely used in the public health pest control industry, and the cost of using them in plantation situations may be prohibitive for the time being. Hexaflumuron has been demonstrated to be effective in eliminating field colonies of C. curvignathus (Ahmad Said et al., 2000).

Fumigants

These are used primarily to disinfest cargo on board ships prior to export. Sulfuryl fluoride should be used instead of methyl bromide, which is now banned, as it does not damage the Earth's ozone layer. Fumigants are applied to cargo in enclosed situations or after enclosing them with plastic sheets.

Monitoring and Decision Making

Monitoring can be carried out by looking for signs of soil on the surface of tree trunks. In large plantations where close inspection of all trees may be impractical, attack may initially be suspected when wilting or yellowing can be seen from a distance. Closer inspection can then be carried out to determine if the observed symptoms are due to attack by C. curvignathus. The distribution of the termite in plantations is usually patchy (Tho and Kirton, 1992) and large numbers of foraging workers can attack a number of trees in a localised area near to the nest. Thus, when one tree is attacked, adjacent and nearby trees are likely to be attacked either simultaneously or subsequently. Monitoring and treatment efforts can, therefore, be targeted towards trees in the vicinity of visible attack. The cost of treatment has to be weighed against the potential economic losses when considering whether to embark on treatment. Labour costs and the need to transport large amounts of water to the site can make treatment costs higher than potential economic losses. If the plantation is scheduled to be thinned, the possibility of thinning out trees that are attacked should be considered as an alternative to chemical control.

IPM

The practice of prophylactic soil treatment with insecticides should generally be avoided in favour of pest management practices that reduce the severity of the pest problem. UNEP hosts a website that outlines many alternatives to pesticides for the management of termites, including C. curvignathus:
http://www.chem.unep.ch/pops/termites/termite_toc.htm.

Tree species-site matching should be considered at an early stage in the planning of the plantation (see section on Tree Species-Site Matching), and silvicultural and agricultural practices that minimise tree stress and injury should be employed as a means of reducing the susceptibility of trees to attack (see section on Cultural Control and Sanitary Methods).

References

Top of page

Abe T, 1979. Studies on the distribution and ecological role of termites in a lowland rain forest of West Malaysia. 2. Food and feeding habits of termites in Pasoh Forest Reserve. Japanese Journal of Ecology, 29(2):121-135; 1 pl. BLL; 30 ref.

Abe T, 1984. Colonisation of the Krakatau Islands by termites (Insecta, Isoptera). Physiological Ecology Japan, 21:63-88.

Ahmad M, 1965. Termites (Isoptera) of Thailand. Bulletin of American Museum of Natural History, 131:1-114.

Ahmad Said Sajap; Samsudin Amit; Welker J, 2000. Evaluation of hexaflumuron for controlling the subterranean termite Coptotermes curvignathus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in Malaysia. Journal of Economic Entomology, 93(2):429-433; 15 ref.

Benedict WV, 1971. Pilot plantations of quick growing industrial species. Protecting plantations of long fibre tree species from loss by insects and diseases. PO/SF/MAL 12 Technical Report No. 4. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: UNDP/FAO.

Chey VK, 1996. Forest Pest Insects in Sabah. Sabah Forest Records No. 15. Sandakan, Malaysia: Sabah Forest Department.

Chey VK, 1996. Termiticide trials on young infested Gmelina arborea trees in Segaliud-Lokan, Sabah. Journal of Tropical Forest Science, 9(1):75-79; 11 ref.

Duong NguyenHai; Thanh HoNgoc; Doan T; Yen NguyenThi; Tam TTM; Dung PhanThanh; Phuong LTT, 1998. Diseases and pests of Hevea brasiliensis in Vietnam. Symposium on natural rubber (Hevea brasiliensis): Vol. 2 - physiology & exploitation and crop protection & planting methods sessions, Ho Chi Minh City, China, 14-15 October 1997., 80-91; 16 ref.

Gay FJ, 1963. The synonymy, distribution, and biology of Coptotermes elisae (Desneux). Pacific Insects, 5:421-423.

Gray B, 1968. Forest tree and timber insect pests in the territory of Papua and New Guinea. Pacific Insects, Honolulu 10 (2), (301-23 + 1 fig.). [44 refs.].

Hamid AA, 1982. Insect pests of plantation species in Sarawak. In: Proceedings of the Eighth Malaysian Forestry Conference, Sabah, 2-8 August 1982. Volume II, 791-796.

Holmgren N, 1913. Termitenstudien. 4. Versuch einer systematischen Monographie der Termiten der orientalischen Region. Kungliga Svenska vetenskapsakademiens handlingar, 50:1-276.

Kalshoven LGE, 1961. Observations on the ecology and epidemiology of Xyleborus destruens Bldf., the near-primary borer in teak plantations in Java. Bijdragen tot de Dierkunde, Amsterdam, 31:5-21.

Kalshoven LGE, 1963. Coptotermes curvignathus causing the death of trees in Indonesia and Malaya. Repr. from Entomologische Berichten, Amsterdam 23, (90-100). 34 refs.

Kirton LG, 1995. Habitat and Host Associations of Coptotermes (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in Peninsular Malaysia. PhD thesis. University of London (Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine).

Kirton LG, 1998. Termite attack on forest trees. FRIM in Focus, August 1998. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Forest Research Institute Malaysia, 10-11.

Kirton LG; Brown VK, 2003. The taxonomic status of pest species of Coptotermes in Southeast Asia: Resolving the paradox in the pest status of termites, Coptotermes gestroi, C. havilandi and C. travians (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Sociobiology, 42:43-63.

Kirton LG; Brown VK; Azmi M, 1999. Do forest-floor wood residues in plantations increase the incidence of termite attack? - testing current theory. Journal of Tropical Forest Science, 11(1):218-239; 49 ref.

Kirton LG; Brown VK; Azmi M, 1999. The pest status of the termite Coptotermes curvignathus in Acacia mangium plantations: incidence, mode of attack and inherent predisposing factors. Journal of Tropical Forest Science, 11(4):822-831; 23 ref.

Kirton LG; Wong AHH, 2001. The economic importance and control of termite infestations in relation to plantation forestry and wood preservation in Peninsular Malaysia - An overview. Sociobiology, 37:325-349.

Lim KimHuan; Bit Silek, 2001. Termite infestation on oil palms planted on deep peat in Sarawak: Tradewinds experience. Cutting-edge technologies for sustained competitiveness: Proceedings of the 2001 PIPOC International Palm Oil Congress, Agriculture Conference, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 20-22 August 2001, 355-368; 11 ref.

Mariau D; Renoux J; Chenon RDde, 1992. Coptotermes curvignathus Holmgren Rhinotermitidae, the main pest of coconut planted on peat in Sumatra. Oleagineux (Paris), 47(10):561-568

Pratt HC, 1909. Observations on Termes gestroi as affecting the para rubber tree, and methods to be employed against its ravages. Bulletin of the Department of Agriculture, Federated Malay States, 3:1-29.

Rao BS, 1974. Diseases and pests of rubber in South and South East Asia. World Crops, 26(2):75-81; 21 pl.; 19 ref.

Ridley HN, 1909. Trees attacked by Termes gestroi. Agricultural Bulletin of the Straits and Federated Malay States, 8-9:563-564.

Roonwal ML; Chhotani OB, 1962. Indian Species of Termite Genus Coptotermes. Indian Council for Agricultural Research Entomological Monograph No. 2.

Sajap AS; Atim AB; Husim H; Wahab YA, 1997. Isolation of Conidiobolus coronatus (Zygomycetes: Entomophthorales) from soil and its effect on Coptotermes curvignathus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Sociobiology, 30(3):257-262; 10 ref.

Sajap AS; Kaur K, 1990. Histopathology of Metarhizium anisopliae, an entomopathogenic fungus, infection on the termite, Coptotermes curvignathus. Pertanika, 13(3):331-334

Sajap AS; Lardizabal ML, 1998. Major protozoan fauna in the tropical subterranean termite, Coptotermes curvignathus Holmgren (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Sociobiology, 32(1):119-124; 8 ref.

Salick J; Tho YP, 1984. An analysis of termite faunp in Malayan rainforests. Journal of Applied Ecology, 21(2):547-561

Snyder TE, 1949. Catalog of the Termites (Isoptera) of the World. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections No. 112, 490 pp.

Thapa RS; Shim PS, 1971. Termite damage in plantation Hoop Pine, Araucaria cunninghamii D. Don, in Sabah and its control. Malay. Forester 34 (1), (47-52). [2 ref.].

Tho YP, 1974. The termite problem in plantation forestry in Peninsular Malaysia. Malaysian Forester, publ. 1975, 37(4):278-283.

Tho YP, 1982. Gap formation by the termite Microcerotermes dubius in lowland forests of Peninsular Malaysia. Malaysian Forester, 45(2):184-192

Tho YP, 1992. Termites of Peninsular Malaysia. In: Kirton LG, ed. Malayan Forest Records No. 36. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Forest Research Institute Malaysia.

Tho YP; Kirton LG, 1992. The economic significance of Coptotermes termites in Malaysian forestry. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Plant Protection in the Tropics (edited by Ooi, P. A. C.; Lim, G. S.; Teng, P. S.) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Malaysian Plant Protection Society, No. 4:193-199. (Imprint year 1990.)

Tho YP; Kirton LG, 1998. A survey of termite attack in Bahau conifer plantation, Peninsular Malaysia. Journal of Tropical Forest Science, 10(4):564-567; 10 ref.

Towgood W, 1909. Termes gestroi. Agricultural Bulletin of the Straits and Federated Malay States, 8:97-104.

Waterhouse DF, 1993. The Major Arthropod Pests and Weeds of Agriculture in Southeast Asia. ACIAR Monograph No. 21. Canberra, Australia: Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, 141 pp.

Wood BJ, 1968. Pests of Oil Palms in Malaysia and Their Control. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Incorporated Society of Planters.

Yamane S; Abe T; Yukawa J, 1992. Recolonization of Krakataus by Hymenoptera and Isoptera. GeoJournal, 28:213-218.

Distribution References

Ahmad M, 1965. Termites (Isoptera) of Thailand. In: Bulletin of American Museum of Natural History, 131 1-114.

CABI, Undated. CABI Compendium: Status as determined by CABI editor. Wallingford, UK: CABI

Chey VK, 1996. Forest Pest Insects in Sabah. In: Sabah Forest Records No. 15, Sandakan, Malaysia: Sabah Forest Department.

Duong NguyenHai, Thanh HoNgoc, Doan T, Yen NguyenThi, Tam T T M, Dung PhanThanh, Phuong L T T, 1998. Diseases and pests of Hevea brasiliensis in Vietnam. In: Symposium on natural rubber (Hevea brasiliensis): Vol. 2 - physiology & exploitation and crop protection & planting methods sessions, Ho Chi Minh City, China, 14-15 October 1997. [Symposium on natural rubber (Hevea brasiliensis): Vol. 2 - physiology & exploitation and crop protection & planting methods sessions, Ho Chi Minh City, China, 14-15 October 1997.], Brickendonbury, UK: International Rubber Research and Development Board (IRRDB). 80-91.

Hamid AA, 1982. Insect pests of plantation species in Sarawak. [Proceedings of the Eighth Malaysian Forestry Conference, Sabah, 2-8 August 1982], II 791-796.

Kalshoven L G E, 1963. Coptotermes curvignathus causing the death of trees in Indonesia and Malaya. Entomologische Berichten. 90-100.

Mariau D, Renoux J, Chenon R D de, 1992. Coptotermes curvignathus Holmgren Rhinotermitidae, the main pest of coconut planted on peat in Sumatra. (Coptotermes curvignathus Holmgren Rhinotermitidae, principal ravageur du cocotier planté sur tourbe à Sumatra.). Oleagineux (Paris). 47 (10), 561-568.

Rao B S, 1974. Diseases and pests of rubber in South and South East Asia. World Crops. 26 (2), 75-81.

Snyder T E, 1949. Catalog of the Termites (Isoptera) of the World. 490 pp.

Tho Y P, Kirton L G, 1992. The economic significance of Coptotermes termites in Malaysian forestry. In: Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Plant Protection in the Tropics. [Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Plant Protection in the Tropics.], [ed. by Ooi P A C, Lim G S, Teng P S]. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Malaysian Plant Protection Society. 193-199.

Waterhouse D F, 1993. The major arthropod pests and weeds of agriculture in Southeast Asia. Canberra, Australia: ACIAR. v + 141 pp.

Distribution Maps

Top of page
You can pan and zoom the map
Save map
Select a dataset
Map Legends
  • CABI Summary Records
Map Filters
Extent
Invasive
Origin
Third party data sources: