Skip to Main Content
U.S. Forest Service
Caring for the land and serving people

United States Department of Agriculture

Home > Search > Publication Information

  1. Share via EmailShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Twitter
    Dislike this pubLike this pub


    Blends of abundant cuticular hydrocarbons are species-specific for termites (Isoptera) and can be used to identify a given taxon without the diagnostic castes, soldiers or adults. We demonstrate that hydrocarbon extracts of termite fecal pellets from damaged wood can also be characterized and used to identify termites responsible for damage, even though termites are no longer present or easily recovered. In structures infested by drywood termites, it is common to find fecal pellets, but difficult to extract termites from the finished wood in service. Nine species belonging to two families (Kalotermitidae and Termopsidae) were examined to compare the hydrocarbon composition of termites and their fecal pellets. Diversity was extensive: at least one half of the amount of the hydrocarbons from Neotermes connexus, Incisitermes immigrans, Cryptotermes brevis, Cryptotermes cynocephalus, Procryptotermes corniceps, and Zootermopsis nevadensis nuttingi was olefins. Incisitermes minor and Pterotermes occidentis incorporated only small amounts of olefins in cuticular hydrocarbons; Marginitermes hubbardi had no detectable olefins. Hydrocarbons extracted from fecal pellets were qualitatively and quantitatively similar to cuticular extracts and can be used to determine the termite species responsible without the termites present.

    Publication Notes

    • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication.
    • (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)
    • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
    • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.


    Haverty, Michael I.; Woodrow, R. Joseph; Nelson, Lori J.; Grace, J. Kenneth. 2005. Identification of Termite Species by the Hydrocarbons in their Feces. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 31(9): 2119-2151.


    Google Scholar


    Chemotaxonomy, cuticular hydrocarbons, dampwood termites, drywood termites, fecal pellets, frass, Kalotermitidae, Isoptera, species identification, Termopsidae

    Related Search

    XML: View XML
Show More
Show Fewer
Jump to Top of Page