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Superregnum: Eukaryota
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Protostomia
Cladus: Ecdysozoa
Cladus: Panarthropoda
Phylum: Arthropoda
Subphylum: Hexapoda
Classis: Insecta
Cladus: Dicondylia
Subclassis: Pterygota
Cladus: Metapterygota
Infraclassis: Neoptera
Supercohort: Polyneoptera
Cohort: Dictyoptera
Ordo: Isoptera

Familia: Termitidae
Subfamilia: Macrotermitinae
Genus: Odontotermes

Species: O. formosanus – O. prewensis

Odontotermes, commonly known as the fungus-growing termites, is a termite genus belonging to family Termitidae, which is native to the Old World. They are most destructive in wooden homes,[1] and are agricultural pests in the tropics and subtropics of Africa and Asia.[2] It is the most diverse termite genus in Africa, with 78 species recorded (as of 2002).[3]


Their underground nests form a slight mound above ground, which may be covered in grass.[1] In large colonies, the mounds may be up to 6 m (20 ft) in diameter, and may be covered by shrubs and trees. Some species construct open chimneys or vent holes that descend into the mound. The fungal garden is enveloped by a thick layer of clay.[1]

The queen is imprisoned in a clay cell in the midst of the fungal garden at the center of the hive. The African species have a single soldier cast, unlike the related genus Macrotermes.

Their only food is the fungus grown in the fungal garden at the center of the nest. The fungus is cultivated on a substrate of wood, bark, leaf litter, dry dung, and dead grass.[1] These are plastered with cement where they are obtained, which facilitates diurnal foraging. Odontotermes species are major contributors to litter decomposition.[2] The fungus Termitomyces reticulatus is found in association with O. badius and O. transvaalensis in Africa.[4]

Species include:

Odontotermes assmuthi Holmgren, 1913 – South Asia
Odontotermes badius (Haviland, 1898) – Africa
Odontotermes ceylonicus (Wasmann, 1902) – South Asia
Odontotermes escherichi Holmgren, 1911 – South Asia
Odontotermes feae (Wasmann, 1896) – South Asia
Odontotermes formosanus (Shiraki) – South Asia
Odontotermes globicola (Wasmann, 1902) – South Asia
Odontotermes horni (Wasmann, 1902) – South Asia
Odontotermes koenigi (Desneux, 1906) – South Asia
Odontotermes latericius (Haviland, 1898) – Africa
Odontotermes obesus (Rambur) – South Asia
Odontotermes preliminaris (Holmgren, 1911) – South Asia
Odontotermes redemanni (Wasmann, 1893) – South Asia
Odontotermes taprobanes (Walker, 1853) – South Asia
Odontotermes transvaalensis (Sjöstedt, 1902) – Africa
Odontotermes wallonensis Wasmann – South Asia


O. badius worker

Cement plastered over tree bark

Workers foraging on tree bark under cement

Workers in ventilation tunnel


Picker, Mike; et al. (2004). Field Guide to Insects of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-77007-061-5.
Chiu, Chun-I; Yeh, Hsin-Ting; Li, Pai-Ling; Kuo, Chih-Yu; Tsai, Ming-Jer; Li, Hou-Feng (17 September 2018). "Foraging phenology of the fungus-growing termite Odontotermes formosanus (Blattodea: Termitidae)". Environmental Entomology. 47 (6): 1509–1516. doi:10.1093/ee/nvy140. PMID 30239668. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
Muvengwi, Justice (23 August 2016). "Relationships between termite (Macrotermes) mound distribution, plant diversity and large mammalian herbivory patterns in Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe" (PDF). Faculty of Science, University of the Witwatersrand. Retrieved 6 April 2021.
van der Westhuizen GCA; Eicker A. (1990). "Species of Termitomyces occurring in South Africa". Mycological Research. 94 (7): 923–37. doi:10.1016/S0953-7562(09)81306-3.

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