Philippine Milk Termite
||The Philippine milk termite is a major structural pest in the Philippines and
in Guam. It was first found in Hawaii in 1963, infesting a house that has since
been demolished. C. gestroi was not found again in Hawaii for
Then in the Fall of 1999, it was discovered infesting several homes and trees in
Barber's Point and Ewa Beach, Oahu. In 2000, a few more infestations were
found in the same area, including one at Hickam Air Field. At present, C.
gestroi seems to be limited to this single region of Oahu.
We are conducting lab and field studies with this new invader to understand
more about its biology and ecology, how it might differ from its close relative
the Formosan subterranean termite, and how interactions with Formosan
subterranean termite colonies will affect its ability to spread further in
Coptotermes gestroi is difficult to distinguish from
the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus. One clue is that the
swarmers (alates) are much darker in color than typical Formosan termite swarmers.
A second distinguishing feature, visible only with a microscope, is that C.
gestroi soldiers have only one hair (setum) on each side of the pore (fontanelle) found on the
front of their heads, while C. formosanus soldiers have two hairs on each side of the fontanelle.
|Illustration by Dr. R.