A Contribution of ICAR National Fellow Project

A Web-portal exclusively on Termite R&D Crossed One Million Mark Covering 81 Countries Across the WorldITMM in IYoM 2023: Integrated Termite Management in Millets

Rural Structures

 Termites are abundant though diverse in most parts of India. As natural habitats are gradually replaced by urban and agricultural activities, its pest status is increasing. Varied degrees of timber damage by termites in dwellings have been observed in India. However, there are no estimates of the economic losses. Indian termite fauna shares a small proportion that is 261 species as on today against the total 3106 species in world, about 35-40 species are reported to damage agricultural crops and timber in buildings. As per an estimate, at least 5% of Indian households need termite treatment.

The dominant wood destroying termites in India are Coptotermes heimi, and Heterotermes indicola. Other subterranean termites are found around household premises may cause damage to buildings (Odontotermes and Microtermes species). During 2009 to 2016, we reported major damage in wooden constructions caused by H. indicola in various parts viz., Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Odisha, Rajasthan and West Bengal etc. Renowned termite expert Roonwal reported H. indicola destroyed the 300-year old town Shri Hargobindpur, Gurdaspur, Punjab in 1955. Recently we reported again such deplorable condition of victimized village Jhopadian, Kota, Rajasthan (Dainik Bhaskar, Oct 18 & 28 Nov. 2013).

Fig: Severly damaged kaccha house of Jodhpur Village (Rajasthan), News Clips Dainik Bhaskar

We acquired accession numbers for gene sequences for H. indicola (12S rDNA, 16S rDNA, cytochrome b, cytochrome oxidase c-subunit-II) from GenBank - NCBI. No doubt termites are ill-famous grabbing slew of news headlines in Indian media, one notably munching millions of Indian currency note by termites inside the safety steel bank lockers in Uttar Pradesh (India Today, 21 April, 2011). However, the pest status varies from species to species. These species belong mostly to families, Rhinotermitidae and Termitidae. Majority of the pest species are soil inhabiting either as mound builders or subterranean nest builders. The movement of these species is confined to the underground by the construction of subterranean galleries, which run for several meters in order to reach the cellulose food materials on the ground surface. Many times their damage goes unnoticed as these are generally concealed. The comprehensive tabulated list is prepared for indoor pests.

Termite as pests attacking buildings in India.

Sl. No.

 Family/Species Name



 Family: Kalotermitidae


Cryptotermes engalensis Snyder

Assam, MP, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhandand West Bengal


C. domesticus (Haviland)



C. roonwali Chhotani



 Family: Rhinotermitidae


H. indicola (Wasmann)

Jammu and Kashmir, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Delhi, WB


H. malabaricus Snyder

Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu.


C. heimi (Wasmann)

Andhra Pradesh, Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Kerala,  Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal etc.


C. kishori Roonwal & Chhotani

Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tripura, West Bengal, Haryana


C. travians Haviland

Assam, Orissa, West Bengal, Tripura





 Family: Termitidae


Odontotermes feae (Wasmann)

Kerala, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka


O. obesus (Rambur)

 South India, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi


Microtermes sp.

Delhi, Haryana

Modified after Sen-Sarma et al, 1975: Final Tech. Report, PL.480 Project, 187p. Places marked by yellow are added by NF project work.

Some practical suggetions:

  • Borax – an ecofriendly compound is effective in termite control, same time bio-safe for plants, domestic animals, and humans. It can be used @ 50-100 gm in 1 liter water for spraying, painting and pouring into the cracks and crevices.

  • Generally plastics vary considerably in susceptibility to termites. However all grades of nylon, are practically immune, thus nylon ropes can be used instead of plastics. Location specific experiments are needed to validate such facts for the local villagers. Ropes of coir, jute, moonj grass and sun-hemp can be given anti-termite protection by soak-treating with coal-tar creosote. Suggested 5% BHC dust mixing in mud-wall-plastering in no more valid, as it is banned. Research is needed to verify the feasibility of insecticidal dusts (chlorpyriphos, bifenthrin, fipronil etc.) to be incorporated in mud wall, bricks etc. Heavily infested wooden items may be burnt out rightly to restrict the potential spread of termites. Fences should be constructed on non-wood materials or if wooden posts are used they must be pressure treated and supported above ground on metal brackets. Retaining walls must be constructed of non-wood materials. Preconstruction termiticides-treatments must be done to the foundation wall, floorings, roof-rafters etc.

  • Metallic (iron/aluminum) frames for door and windows, beams and supports are to be encouraged.

  • Sands (sieve size, mesh #16) can be used in flooring. Chlorpyriphos treated sands may also be used for flooring, but take care of toxic chemicals indoor.

  • Termiticides are to be used in proper dose and following proper care, as these are toxic to non-targets (human and domestic animals). Biocontrol agents are not suggested as they are ineffective against termites.

Last Updated: 27-03-2024

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