Termites Control In Fruit Orchards

There are 42 genera covering about 180 species of termites found in Malaysia. However, less than 10% of them are important pest species in the human environment. In the urban and suburban environment, four species of Coptotennes are of great importance to the pest control industry, namely C. travians, C. curvignathus, C. havilandi and C. kalshoveni.

Many species of termites have been reported to have caused serious damage on local fruit trees such as durian, nangka, chempedak, rambutan, and mango. The termite species commonly reported to attack durian is Microtermes pallides

Termites problem is most serious when they attack young durian trees. At this juvenile stage, termites can cause serious damage to the young durian roots which eventually dry up and die.  In adult durian trees, termites infestations can be easily seen by the numerous mud tunnels on the surface of the tree trunk. In a serious attack, the tree dies. Immediate action is necessary to stop further damage on the affected trees and also to prevent the termites from spreading to other healthy trees on the farm.

Termites are mostly found on land that were previously planted with rubber trees and oil palm or where there is an abundance of old tree trunks or big branches. Fruit trees planted on peaty soils are prone to termites attack.

Traditional methods of controlling termites by soil treatment with insecticides are frequently not suitable due to difficulties in creating and maintaining a soil barrier. Termite baiting has evolved in recent times as a sustainable method for managing termites in plantations and fruit orchards. Termite baiting involves the application of above ground baiting stations containing bait matrix on the mud tubes and mud galleries of the active termites on tree trunks and also termite mounds.

Baiting and Colony elimination system

  • Baiting and colony elimination is the latest technology having been introduced into Malaysia in the year 2000. It takes advantage of the behaviour of termites.
  • Baiting with Chlorfluazuron will result in colony elimination. The baiting process takes between 70-90 days from the date the termites start to feed on the bait matrix.
  • It is by far the most effective termite control system available today. However, this system can only be recommended for use on the subterranean termite species called Coptotermes sp.
  • The chemical Chlorfluazuron is an insect growth regulator (IGR) and is therefore friendlier to the environment and the people around it.
This section is sourced from Agriculture Western Australia


Termites are small, soft-bodied, social insects that feed on wood, grass, dead leaves, bark, humus, fungi or the dung of herbivores. They are commonly known as white ants, but are not related to true ants.

There are over 2300 species of termites of which about 350 occur in Australia, and of these about 12 damage sound timber.
Termites also recycle organic materials and aerate the soil. They are an important part in the diet of other animals and their activities provide hollow logs, which are used by birds and mammals. Economically, the important termites are the subterranean species that usually nest under, or in contact with, the ground.

The following species do the most economic damage: Coptotermes acinaciformis, Coptotermes acinaciformis raffrayi, Coptotermes michaelseni, Mastotermes darwiniensis, Nasutitermes exitiosus and Schedorhinotermes reticulatus.

Note that the suspected occurrence of drywood termites, or other unusual damage to timber, should be reported to Agriculture Western Australia. Drywood termites nest in wood above the ground and do not require contact with the ground.

Social structure

Each termite colony may comprise more than a million insects divided into specialised groups called castes. Each caste is physically different and performs a particular function.

Primary reproductives (Life Cycle) are the king and queen that established the nest after leaving existing colonies. In an established nest the queen may be enlarged and practically immobile. In some species, the queen can lay 2000 to 3000 eggs per day. The king and queen may live for 15 years and are replaced when too old to meet the needs of the colony. The king periodically fertilises the queen, unlike bees, wasps and ants where the queen usually mates only at the beginning of her reproductive life.

Winged reproductives or alates are the future kings and queens of new nests. They have a well developed cuticle, compound eyes, and two pairs of usually dark brown elongated membranous wings of equal length. Alates disperse in large numbers from mature colonies, usually in warm humid weather. They are weak fliers and quickly land and drop their wings. The females release a scent (pheromone) to attract a male with which to establish a nest. Only a small percentage are successful in establishing new colonies. It takes several years of development before a nest can do significant damage. Alates are only produced in well-established, mature nests. During their dispersal flight, alates commonly land on the roofs of buildings and move inside. This is not a matter for concern since they must first establish a nest in the ground. However, alates seen emanating very close to the house suggest a nest is nearby and a pest control operator should be contacted.

Soldiers are sterile males and females. Their main function is to protect the colony. They also scout and locate new sources of food. Soldiers have a thin, white or light brown cuticle over most of the body and a thicker, dark brown cuticle covering the head. Soldiers are physically distinctive and are the primary group used for species identification. Soldiers cannot feed themselves and are dependent on the workers for their nutrition. Some soldiers exude an acid fluid as a means of defence. This fluid can corrode metal and will penetrate mortar and low grade concrete.

Workers are the sterile males and females that feed the colony, rear young and repair and enlarge the nest. They are the only caste that can chew and digest the cellulose in wood. Workers have thin cuticles and are the most numerous caste of the colony.

Workers, soldiers and the enlarged queen are very susceptible to desiccation owing to their thin cuticles. Thus the humidity of the nest is kept at 90 to 95 percent. When termites are forced to cross a structure that they cannot eat, they construct mud-like shelter tubes (or galleries) which protect them against light, desiccation and predators.

The life cycle of termites is described as "incomplete metamorphosis" with egg, nymph and adult stages. In the nymph stage termites grow through a series of moults. The life cycle of true ants is known as "complete metamorphosis"; with egg, larvae, pupa and adult stages.

Life Cycle Termite

Protecting Trees From Termite Attack

Clear the area of material that could attract termites before planting trees. Burn or completely remove tree stumps. In areas of high termite activity, the hole and soil may need treatment with bifenthrin (Biflex®) or chlorpyrifos (Chlorpyrifos PCO®, Deter® or Dursban®) during planting. Take precautions to prevent personal exposure to the insecticide during this operation.

Wooden stakes of susceptible timbers or sapwoods used for supporting plants can attract termites, as can mulches of woodchips, barkchips and nut shells.

Paradichloro-benzene (commonly available as toilet deodorant blocks) may be used where roots of young or small trees are attacked by termites. This chemical has a fumigant effect and, in flaked or crushed form, can be dug into the ground under the canopy about 15 to 25 cm from the base of the plant.

Alternatively, bifenthrin (Biflex®), chlorpyrifos (Chlorpyrifos PCO®, Deter® or Dursban®) or maldison (Maldison 500®) can be pressure injected around the base of the affected tree. This is only likely to be effective with small trees.

For large trees being attacked by termites, a termite nest may be located in the base. Using a long auger or spade bit, drill several holes (12 to 15 mm in diameter) around the circumference of the tree at a height of 500 mm above ground level and down at a shallow angle (see Figure 6). Live specimens or an obvious hollow inside the trunk filled with termite workings may indicate the presence of termites.

Treatment involves application of bifenthrin, chlorpyrifos or maldison via the holes to the nest. More than 5 to 10 L of diluted insecticide may be required.

This information is available in the form as Bulletin No. 4265 (Agdex 612), from Agriculture Western Australia.

Note: Mention of trade names does not imply endorsement or preference of any company's product by Agriculture Western Australia, and any omission of a registered trade name is unintentional.
The information provided here is according to Australian regulations. Before attempting to follow the information provided here, please check the regulations in your country.



The PEST Control Association Of Malaysia (PCAM) was formed in 1994. Being the only official Association for the Pest Control Industry, the PCAM is the official communication link between the Pest Control Operators or also now known as Pest Managers and national/ state legislators and regulatory agencies.

In our efforts to help you do your job more efficiently and with fewer regulatory encumbrances, we ensure your concern receive the attention and consideration you deserve. Go to PCAM mainpage..


The best method of subterranean termite control is to avoid water accumulation near the foundation of the home. Prevent subterranean termite access by diverting water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Store firewood at least 20 feet away from the home, and keep mulch at least 15 inches from the foundation. Indoors, homeowners should reduce humidity through proper ventilation of crawl spaces, attics and basements to avoid attracting subterranean termite swarms.
 Go to Link here--


Here are some frequently asked questions about termites control
PAN Environment Technology

PAN Environment Technology


The following are some reports and information on termites control measures:

1. How to Control Termites Without Chemicals

A good general write-up about termites and how to control them without chemicals.



Research Paper


A termite baiting system was evaluated in field experiments in Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Philippines. Alpha-cellulose powder containing chlorfluazuron (Requiem™) was tested for its efficacy in eliminating colonies of subterranean termites in landscape and orchard trees. Traditional methods are frequently not suitable due to difficulties in creating a soil barrier system. Using 0.1% weight/weight chlorfluazuron there was no evidence of repellence and all colonies were eliminated.

3. Baiting technology: an emerging tool for controlling termites in plantations

A number of bait toxicants and baiting systems have been developed and evaluated over the last few years for the control of subterranean termite species, but the most efficacious one tested by the author is the Requiem termite bait.

Knowing the right termite species which attack our properties is appropriate in order to employ the right strategy to control and manage them.

The threatening 10 invasive termite species in Malaysia:

Mante: 10 termite species

5. Management of The Giant Northern Termites

Read this Australian experience for general information on how to control termites.

Management of the Giant Northern Termites

The giant northern termite (Mastotermes darwiniensis), which is native to northern Australia, is the most damaging species attacking plants in the Top End. This species is readily recognised since its workers and soldiers are usually over 12 mm long, whereas all but one other species are less than 7 mm. The great majority of small termite species do little damage to native plants, ornamentals or fruit trees and rarely need to be controlled.

Check out this link - More than 100 different Termiticides have been approved for use in Australia.


Termite is a vital component in a healthy forest or agriculture ecosystem. The diversity of termite species reflects the overall ecosystem production and health. This study aimed to evaluate the diversity of termite in Sarawak agriculture peat zone and to identify the key morphometric characters in species identification. Belt transects sampling was carried out in two studies sites. Individual termites were carefully observed, measured and 15 morphometric characters were identified as important in species identification. At the present stage, this study had found six genera which can be further categorized into thirteen termite species. The wood feeder termite has been identified to be the most dominant species and Rhinotermitidae are the most species-rich family. This is in contrast with the conserved forest where soil-feeding termites are the most diverse group of termites. Among the species identified in the studied sites were the Coptotermes curvignathus, C. sepangensis, C. gestroi, Parrhinotermes aequalis, Schedorhinotermes brevialatus, S. javanicus, S. sarawakensis, Pericapritermes dolichocephalus, P. latignathus, Nasutitermes havilandi, N. longinasoides, N. matangensiformis and Havilanditermes atripennis. The study showed that agricultural practice has some extend of repercussion on termite assemblage structure. Get PDF report



Subterranean termite control accounted for 50% of the total business turnover of the Malaysian pest control industry in 2000, of which USS8-10 million were spent. About 70% of termite treatments were done on residential premises, 20% on industrial buildings and 10% on commercial buildings. The most important species are Coptotermes travians, C. curvignathus, C. havilandi C. kalshoveniand C. sepangensis. C. curuignathus which usually attack houses built in areas where rubber trees (Hevea brasilliensis) were previously planted, while C. travians is mainly found in urban buildings. Other subterranean and mound-building species that are found around living premises, urban gardens and parklands, but usually do not attack structures include Macrotermes gilvus, Macrotermes carbonarius, Globitermes sulphureus, Microterrnespakistanicus, Microcerotermes spp. and Odontotermes spp. Control of subterranean termites in Malaysia currently relies heavily on pre- and post-construction soil treatments. Dusting is also commonly done in buildings. The ban in 1998 on chlordane usage as a soil termiticide, has caused pest control operators to opt for organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides. Field evaluations of hexaflumuron baits against various Coptotermes species in natural habitats and in buildings showed very promising results. The activity of all baited termite colonies diminished within 70 days of bait application with the total amount of hexaflumuron consumed being less than 1.5 g. The potential of baiting and challenges to termite control in Malaysia are discussed.  


8. Termite population in oil palm plantation and the effect of different water table on Coptotermes Curvignathus in peat soil

Zulkefli Masijan, (2007) Termite population in oil palm plantation and the effect of different water table on Coptotermes Curvignathus in peat soil. Masters thesis, Universiti Malaysia Sabah.


A study on termite population under oil palm plantation and the effect of different water table in peat soil on Coptotermes curvignathus was conducted at MPOB Sessang Research Station, Sarawak. The objectives of this project are to determine termite species and their foraging pattern using rubber wood stake in oil palm plantation, and to study the effect of different water table on pest termite Coptotermes curvignathus in Iysimeter filled with peat soil. The study was conducted within nine plots constructed at three different locations: young palm (deep peat), mature palm (medium peat) and mature palm (deep peat). Each plot, measured at 20 m x 30 m, contained 30 rubber wood stakes driven at five meters apart. Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) wood stake with a dimension of 30 cm x 5 cm x 5 cm was used as the detector. The populations detected consisted of two families, with five subfamilies and seven termite species. The subfamilies were Coptotermitinae, Rhinotermitinae, Macrotermitinae, Nasutitermitinae and Termitinae. The first subfamily consisted of three species; Coptotermes curvignathus, Coptotermes sepangensis and Coptotermes kalshoveni. The other four species were Schedorhinotermes sarawakensis,Macrotermes gilvus, Nasutitermes sp. and Globitermes sp. The percentage of infestation on rubber wood stake at deep peat plot with young palm was 87.8%, while at the matured palm area planted in medium and deep peat recorded 37.8% and 50% respectively. A significant difference of X2 (1,180) = 29.965, p>0.05 detected at deep peat area with young and mature palm on termite infestation at wood stake. The mean wood consumption for the Coptotermes curvignathus population over a period of one month in a single station was 171 .63 ± 9.01g (54 .57%) higher than other species in Coptotermitinae subfamily, with Coptotermes kalshoveni and Coptotermes sepangensis consumed 32.17% and 26.04% respectively. Study on the termite population over time indicated that higher incidence of destructive termites at the younger palm compared to mature palm planted in deep peat area. After nine months (three rounds of sampling,) the population was dominated by Coptotermes curvignathus. Four water tables at 15 cm, 30 cm, 50 cm and 70 cm (control) from soil surface were tested on Coptotermes curvignathus in Iysimeter. The percentages of survival are low with 14% and 29% survival rate at the 15 em and 30 em water table. The survival rate at 50 cm and 70 cm (normal water table) were 42% and 60% respectively. Excavation of the soil at seven days after treatments showed that 55.6% manage to survive after increasing the water table. There was also a significant difference (P<0.05) on termite survival mean to the depth of water table from analysis of variance.


On oil palm and coconut, termites can feed just under the bark or under leaf bases. ... Ficus elastica (rubber plant) ... At present, control of Coptotermes in mature trees is rarely economical or practical, but control in the

Photo credit: Plant Wise 


10. Coptotermes curvignathus (rubber termite)

    C. curvignathus has not been introduced to new geographical areas, but given that it can nest in tree trunks and form new nests from fragments of the colony that contain nymphs, there is a potential risk of introductions occurring.

Photo credit: CABI.og


 AAR Advisory Article 

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AAR Newsletters « Applied Agricultural Resources


... as part of an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy in oil palm plantations – 
Get report here



Termites - The Inner Sanctum - The Secrets of Nature

Published on Apr 12, 2015

They cannot tolerate sunlight; some of them are even blind. However they are one of the world’s most ingenious builders: Termites. They build high-risers without any technical devices that are, compared to the Empire State Building in New York, 25 times higher. They are the only animals that have managed to build an air-conditioning system without electricity. Their nests are architectural masterpieces that rise up to eight meters from the ground and dispose brood chambers for larvae, corridors for transportation, fungal gardens for nutrition and even emergency exits for hostile attacks.


Published on Apr 3, 2012
Exterra Termite Baiting System - The movie


Published on Mar 18, 2013

Termites, a necessary pest. A video that helps you to understand and identify termites and differentiate them from ants. Termites are a problem for people all over the world yet they have an important role in the ecological system. This video helps home owners to identify termites so they know if they have a problem with their home. Many people can't recognise a termite. The video was donated to the site.


Another video of termites living in an old tree stump and damaging homes.


Mulching and Using Ants to Control Termites


Termites attacking a mango tree in India


Same treatment used for a home can be applied to your fruit orchard -


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