Termite pictures – Odontotermes longignathus

The Odontotermes genus is one of the Macrotermitinae and there are many species of Odontotermes, which are either subterranean or mound building. The Odontotermes range from Africa to Asia. They are so named from a small characteristic “tooth” which appears as a crenulation on the soldier’s left mandible. In some species, this “tooth” is rather prominent, but in other species quite obscure, only visible when the soldier opens its mandibles.

A particular species, Odontotermes longignathus, happens to be one of the species of termites I used to collect many years ago. A subterranean species, Odontotermes longignathus is also one of the largest Odontotermes around, the soldier being roughly 12 mm in length, from the mandibles to the rear of the abdomen.

Odontotermes longignathus consumes wood left in the open and favors dead tree stumps or fallen branches and are quite common in urban fringes, but surprisingly quite rare in forested areas. This particular species, can be readily found in public parks where there are many old trees and subsequently, fallen branches that it can feed on (it does not appear to invade homes). Its alates typically fly after dusk (around 8pm), although they do not form dense swarms and the flights are short-lived.

As a whole, Odontotermes are very important decomposers of wood in tropical forests, and there are many species in existence.

Odontotermes longignathus

(Above) Odontotermes longignathus

Odontotermes longignathus

(Above) The castes of this species.

Odontotermes longignathus worker

(Above) The worker termite of Odontotermes longignathus close up.

Odontotermes longignathus soldier

(Above) Note the small “tooth” on the left mandible of the soldier. This is the common denominator in Odontotermes.

Odontotermes longignathus soldier

(Above) The soldier termite is monomorphic – There is only one size of soldier. They secrete a sticky brown liquid when biting which probably serves to deter ants.

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