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Adult termites Incisitermes minor



Pale, soft-bodied insects that feed on wood. Termites belong to the Isoptera order. They are social insects whose colonies can contain over a million insects. The white-color, wingless workers range in size from 4.5 - 8.0 mm long. The build the nest and tend the eggs. The soldiers are light brown with dark brown wings and are slightly larger. Adult termites have strong jaws can burrow through just about any type of wood. They damage papers, books, clothing, carpets, and building structures. Termites can eat the interior of a piece of wood while leaving a thin outer shell untouched. Drywood (Kalotermitidae species) termites usually live in structural wood or furniture. They are detected by small piles of frass or by swarms. Subterranean (Rhinotermitidae species) termites nest in the soil and feed on nearby wood. They are often detected by their mud tunnels that connect the nest to the food source or by swarms.

Please see MuseumPest.net for the following identification sheets

  • West Indian Drywood termite (Cryptotermes brevis Walker): Sheet
  • Eastern (common) Subterranean termite (Reticulitermes flavipes): Sheet

Synonyms and Related Terms

termites; white ant

Collection Risks

May produce deep holes or craters. May destroy the interior while allowing the outer surface to remain intact.

Additional Images

Resources and Citations

  • Lynda A. Zycherman, J.Richard Schrock, A Guide to Museum Pest Control, FAIC and Association of Systematics Collections, Washington DC, 1988
  • G.Caneva, M.P.Nugari, O.Salvadori, Biology in the Conservation of Works of Art, ICCROM, Rome, 1991
  • Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia, Douglas M. Considine (ed.), Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 1976
  • The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998
  • Hermann Kuhn, Conservation and Restoration of Works of Art and Antiquities, Butterworths, London, 1986

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