Termite Taxonomy

Christopher Dunaway, Morgan, Alan L., Ring, Dennis R.  |  6/17/2011 11:44:34 PM

Piles of termites


To understand our relationship to termites, it is important to look at the taxonomic identification.



Kingdom: Animalia – defined as, “multicellular organisms that have a well defined shape and usually limited growth, can move voluntarily, actively acquire food and digest it internally, and have sensory and nervous systems that allow them to respond rapidly to stimuli.”(Webster's)

Phylum: Arthropoda – Arthropods have external skeletons, segmented bodies and jointed appendages. Also includes arachnids and crustaceans.

Class: Insecta – Insects have three part bodies, three pairs of legs, and two antennae.

Order: Isoptera – Meaning “equal wing” because the front and rear wings of the reproductive alates are of the same length.

Family: There are seven families of termites worldwide. Of these seven, only two are found in Louisiana.

  • Rhinotermitedae – Subterranean termites. Includes two Genus encompassing five species found in Louisiana.
    • Coptotermes formosanus = The invasive Formosan subterranean termite.
    • Reticulitermes flavipes = Eastern subterranean termite. Most common “native” subterranean termite.
    • Reticulitermes virginicus = Dark southern subterranean termite. Common “native” subterranean termite.
    • Reticulitermes hageni = Light southern subterranean termite. Uncommon “native” subterranean termite.
    • Reticulitermes tibialis = Midwestern subterranean termite. Common throughout the Midwestern United States, it has only been found in southwestern Louisiana.
  • Kalotermitedae – Drywood termites. Includes three genus encompassing four species found in Louisiana.
    • Incistermes snyderi = Southwestern drywood termite.
    • Cryptotermies brevis = West Indian powderpost drywood termite.
    • Incistermes minor = Western drywood termite.
    • Kalotermes approximates = Dark southern drywood termite.

Census data taken from "The Termite Species of Louisiana: An Identification Guide" By Matthew T.Messenger and the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board. 2004.

Content by Chris Dunaway

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