Termite pictures – Globitermes sulphureus

Globitermes sulphureus (subfamily Termitinae) is a species of termite that is common in agricultural areas and largely feeds on decaying natural, wood. It does not attack live trees but has been documented as occasionally attacking the wooden sections of man made buildings. For the most part, Globitermes sulphureus is confined to forests below 200 meters above sea level, and in plantations; almost never found in urban areas.

Also called the South East Asian tar-baby termite, Globitermes sulphureus builds a dense mound up to over a meter in height. The walls of the mound are mostly a mixture of soil and excrement, and is quite hard, but thin. This termite is very distinctive for having a bright fluorescent yellow coloration in the mature soldiers. This coloration is due to the color of the defensive fluid they hold in their abdomens, and varies depending on the age of the soldier.

The soldiers have incurved mandibles, with a prominant small “tooth” on the inward side. They have a kamikaze method of defence, whereby they grab an intruder with their jaws and rupture themselves to release the sticky fluid, which incapacitates most ants. Such a mode of defence is called autothysis.

I have observed Globitermes sulphureus foraging in dry and arid patches of land with no mound in sight for at least dozens of meters, so I believe they have a pretty wide foraging range, which may be quite large for this particular (small) species of termite.

Globitermes sulphureus mound

(Above) A small Globitermes sulphureus mound

Fairly large G. sulphureus mound

(Above) Fairly large G. sulphureus mound about 70 cm high.

Globitermes sulphureus workers repairing nest damage

(Above) Globitermes sulphureus workers repairing a breach while the soldiers stand guard.

Globitermes sulphureus termites.

(Above) Globitermes sulphureus termites.

G. sulphureus workers

(Above) G. sulphureus workers.

Globitermes sulphureus soldier

(Above) Globitermes sulphureus soldier. Note the marginal “tooth” on the left mandible.