Darwin Termite, Mastotermes darwiniensis

The Darwin termite (Mastotermes darwiniensis), also known as the giant northern termite, is a species of termite that can only be found in northern areas of Australia. This species is the only member of its genus and the only living member of the family Mastotermitidae. It does not typically occur in large groups, but if food, water, and space are adequate, populations can number in the millions. This typically occurs in areas where natural conditions have been altered including near piles of timber.

The Darwin termite is similar in appearance to its closest relative, the cockroach, holding a similar abdomen shape, wings, and color. It lays its eggs in the same manner as cockroaches, dropping an egg sack from the abdomen, but only individuals able to breed have wings. This species can be pest in areas where population numbers are high and can destroy trees and crops. Because of this, areas where it is high in number no longer support vegetable farming due to repeated major losses.

Image Caption: Giant northern termite (Mastotermes darwiniensis). Credit: Giancarlodessi/Wikipedia