Potential Invasive Termites in India and Importance of Integrative Taxonomy


  • C. M. Kalleshwaraswamy Department of Entomology, College of Agriculture, Keladi Shivappa Nayaka University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences (KSNUAHS), Shivamogga 577204, Karnataka




Identification, Kalotermitidae, Rhinotermitidae, traded commodity, woodeating, nest constructing, places of origin, invasives, number, Indian perspectives, NCBI accessions, threats to biodiversity


Termites are ubiquitously abundant in the tropics and subtropics. Globally 28 species are considered invasive among the 2937 species in nine families known. Among the invasive species, most are considered nuisance organisms to humans in urban areas, and a few have invaded natural forests. Generally, the invasive termites share three qualities: (i) they eat wood, (ii) make nests in wood, and (iii) they quickly generate secondary reproductives. These qualities are the most common in the Kalotermitidae and Rhinotermitidae (Blattodea: Isoptera), which enhance their opportunities for producing viable and reproductively capable individuals. Species of the Termitidae cannot produce secondary reproductives, and this is attributed as a reason for their lack of invasiveness. The 28 species recognized as strongly invasive have the potential to widen their geographical range from their present distribution locations. According to available data, 10 out of the 17 recognized invasive species have expanded their area of occurrence since 1969. Among the 28, three are known in India, although their exact distribution data in the Indian subcontinent, the damage they inflict, and consequent economic loss are yet to be worked out in detail. Climate change, intensifying urbanization, and globalization, acting either individually or in combination, are likely to exacerbate ecological and economic effects. Strict quarantine measures and appropriate treatment of every wood material imported are imperative. Efforts have been made to list the potential invasive termites in India based on imported-wood material. Approximately 70 species reported in the GenBank database for about 300 species known from India, emphasizing a dire need for accurate morphological and molecular determinations. Gene sequences of some of the Indian termite species submitted are incorrectly identified, as their presence and distribution in India is doubtful. Therefore, in this article, I discuss the importance of the combined and efficient use of morphological and molecular taxonomy in determining termites in India.


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How to Cite

C. M. Kalleshwaraswamy. (2022). Potential Invasive Termites in India and Importance of Integrative Taxonomy. Indian Journal of Entomology, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.55446/IJE.2022.694



Research Review


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