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Fungus-growing termites
Bulletin du Muséum d'histoire naturelle (1914) (20439769575).jpg
The alate, soldier, minor worker and queen of O. horni
Scientific classification

Holmgren, 1912

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]


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.[3]


Species include:



  1. ^ a b c d Picker, Mike; et al. (2004). Field Guide to Insects of South Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers. p. 56. ISBN 978-1-77007-061-5.
  2. ^ a b 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.
  3. ^ 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.