Macrotermes subhyalinus (Rambur)

Macrotermes subhyalinus
Macrotermes subhyalinus.
Termite soldier, length 17 mm.

Scientific name: Macrotermes subhyalinus (Rambur)
Common name: Mendi Termite
Ethiopian name: Mist

Order: Isoptera
Family: Termitidae

Main hosts: Polyphagous on a wide range of plants

Major pest of: Tef
Minor pest of: Barley, Maize, Wheat, Millets, Sorghum, Peppers and several other crops.

The species is found throughout the country but it is especially a problem in the western regions.

The termites damage stem and roots, which is especially serious in seedlings. Often they cut the base of the plant at ground level.
Tree trunks or plant stems are covered with runways composed of plant fragments, soil and saliva. Underneath this protecting cover they feed on the bark. Trees may be ring barked. Small plants may be killed.

Termite mound
Termite mound
These termites live in colonies which consist of reproductive forms (queens and kings) and sterile workers and soldiers. They builds large mounds which are called “termitaria”. Because of this, their presence in an area is usually obvious.

Adults are pale brown in colour. They are about 8-15 mm in body length. The wings (if present are up to 35 mm long and have a yellowish tinge.

At the beginning of the rainy season the colony produces a number of sexual matured, winged males and females who leave the nest. After swarming these queens and kings loose their wings and start new colonies.

The workers which form the majority of the population, are wingless and sterile. They collect plant material which they take back to the nest. In special underground chambers they construct fungus gardens. The termites feed on these fungi.

The wingless soldiers are recognized by their modified mouthparts and strongly chitinized heads. Their function is to defend the colony.

Cultural control:
Plant early to avoid severe damage.
Ploughing after harvest.
Remove stubbles (especially maize and sorghum) immediately after harvest.
Crop rotation.

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