The pest termites of South America: taxonomy, distribution and status


Author's address: Reginaldo Constantino, Departamento de Zoologia, Universidade de Brasília, Brasília, DF, 70910–900, Brazil. E-mail:


Abstract: A total of 77 species of termites have been reported as structural or agricultural pests in South America. These records are reviewed, with indication of the damage they cause, their pest status, distribution and sources of information. Among these, 40 species are reported as structural pests, 53 species as agricultural pests and 15 species as both. However, only 18 species are considered major pests and the status of most of the others is uncertain. Uncertainty about status is much higher among agricultural pests. Specific taxonomic problems are discussed and distribution maps of the main pest genera and species are presented. The most important structural pests are the introduced Coptotermes havilandi and Cryptotermes brevis and the native Nasutitermes corniger. Reticulitermes was introduced into Uruguay and Chile, where it is the only serious pest. The main agricultural pests are Heterotermes spp., Nasutitermes spp., Cornitermes spp., Procornitermes spp. and Syntermes spp., and the most affected crops are sugarcane, upland rice and eucalyptus.