Termite pictures – Coptotermes curvignathus

Coptotermes curvignathus (Holmgren) from the genus Coptotermes is a destructive termite species of tree plantations in South East Asia and attacks live trees. It is similar to other Coptotermes species like Coptotermes travians and Coptotermes gestroi with the main differences in its being larger, and having strong incurved mandibles, and also a distinctive habit of attacking trees by encasing the surface of the tree trunk with a layer of soil.

Its mode of infestation slowly kills the tree, although this process is slow and may take a year or more depending on the size of the tree, and the size of the colony too. While this is a problem with exotic tree plantations, in the forest I have noticed too that sometimes, certain infestations have halted for some reason and the colony seems to have died out or is dying out – This is something that may need further investigation as to the why this has happened. But it is clear that Coptotermes curvignathus is not as aggressive or as vigorous as its more infamous cousins.

Once they cover the trunk with a layer of soil, they proceed to much their way into the heartwood of the tree beneath this cover of soil, and also gain entry to the softer insides of the trunk through wounds and damage to the tree bark itself. Coptotermes curvignathus rarely attacks man made structures; this dubious honor going to Coptotermes gestroi. It appears to have a strong taste for live wood rather than dead wood.

Coptotermes curvignathus

(Above) Coptotermes curvignathus

Coptotermes curvignathus - A pair of soldiers.

(Above) Coptotermes curvignathus – A pair of soldiers. The soldiers have a slightly larger/longer abdomen in relation to the head size, moreso than C. gestroi.

Coptotermes curvignathus soldiers

(Above) C. curvignathus soldiers have a slightly less prominant fontanelle compared to C. gestroi.

Coptotermes curvignathus workers

(Above) Coptotermes curvignathus workers – Pale, white, and delicate looking.

An infestation of Coptotermes curvignathus on a tree.

(Above) An infestation of Coptotermes curvignathus on a tree. Note the soil cover on the bark.