Soldier and workers of Amitermes dentatus, from Termite Web.

Belongs within: Termitinae.
Contains: Drepanotermes.

Amitermes is a genus of termites whose soldiers possess long curved mandibles with one tooth present in each. Most species nest in small subterranean galleries, though some produce much larger nests. The magnetic termite Amitermes meridionalis of northern Australia builds narrow wedge-shaped mounds aligned in a north-south direction. Most species feed on dead wood but some may forage for dead leaves.

Species assigned to Amitermes are found throughout warmer regions of the world. Molecular phylogenetic analysis indicates that Amitermes is paraphyletic to the genus Drepanotermes (Inward et al. 2007) which was previously treated as a subgenus of Amitermes.

Characters (from Hill 1942, as Hamitermes, excluding Drepanotermes): Winged adult: Small to moderately large, mostly of dark colour. Head circular to broadly oval, rather thick, shallowly arched. Eyes rather small, not very prominent. Ocelli small to moderately large. Fontanelle in centre of head, or a little to the rear, distinct, usually oval, often with anterior prolongation. Postclypeus lighter in colour than head capsule, about half as long as wide, more or less strongly inflated; posterior margin markedly convex and anterior margin straight. Mandibular condyle very small. Anteclypeus usually well developed. Labrum broader than long. Left mandible with distal point of molar part projecting well beyond masticating edge. Antennae of 14-18 segments (usually 15); third segment usually shortest of all. Pronotum longer than half its breadth, more or less straight in front, usually same colour as head. Meso- and metanotum usually broad behind and not very deeply incised. Stumps of forewings a little long than hind ones. Wing membrane densely covered with micrasters and with sparse hairs. Median vein close to cubitus. Fore tibiae with two or three, mid and hind tibiae with two apical spurs. Cerci short. Styli absent. Soldier: Head rectangular, broadly rounded or distinctly longer than wide, in each case narrowed anteriorly. Fontanelle usually present and towards the front; fontanelle glands usually very large. Postclypeus bilobed and shortest in the middle. Labrum rounded or conical at apex. Mandibles usually narrow, sabre-shaped, with large basal part; outer edge usually bent convexly into an arch; inner edge usually with a well developed tooth, which may be directed forwards, inwards or backwards, or with only a suggestion of a tooth (indicated by slight expansion and/or thickening of edge). Antennae of 13-15 segments, usually 15. Pronotum narrower than head, saddle-shaped. Tibial spurs as in winged adult. Cerci short. Styli rudimentary or absent. Worker: Head broadly oval, sometimes richly pigmented. Postclypeus usually about half as long as broad. Left mandible as in winged adult. Antennae of 13-19 segments.

<==Amitermes Silvestri 1901 [=Hamitermes Silvestri 1903; incl. Monodontermes Silvestri 1909] H42
    |--A. beaumonti IVE07
    `--+--A. dentatus IVE07
       |--A. evuncifer IVE07
       `--+--Drepanotermes IVE07
          `--+--A. heterognathus Silvestri 1909 IVE07, H42 [=Hamitermes (Monodontermes) heterognathus H42]
             `--+--A. conformis IVE07
                `--A. obeuntis Silvestri 1909 IVE07, H42 [=Hamitermes obeuntis H42]

Amitermes incertae sedis:
  A. abruptus Gay 1968 J13
  A. accinctus Gay 1968 J13
  A. amifer A50
  ‘Hamitermes’ capito Hill 1935 H42
  A. coachellae N90
  ‘Hamitermes’ colonus Hill 1942 H42
  A. darwini Hill 1922 J13 [=Hamitermes darwini H42; incl. H. willingsi Hill 1935 H42]
  ‘Hamitermes’ dentosus Hill 1935 H42
  A. emersoni N90
  ‘Hamitermes’ eucalypti Hill 1922 H42
  ‘Hamitermes’ exilis Hill 1935 H42
  ‘Hamitermes’ germanus (Hill 1915) [=Termes germana; incl. H. kimberleyensis Mjöberg 1920] H42
  A. hartmeyeri (Silvestri 1909) J13 [=Monodontermes hartmeyeri H42, Hamitermes hartmeyeri H42]
  ‘Hamitermes’ herbertensis Mjöberg 1920 H42
  A. innoxius Gay 1968 J13
  A. inops Gay 1968 J13
  ‘Hamitermes’ latidens Mjöberg 1920 H42
  ‘Hamitermes’ lativentris Mjöberg 1920 H42
  A. laurensis Mjöberg 1920 WG91, H42 (see below for synonymy)
  A. longignathus SVT04
  A. lonnbergianus H79
  A. meridionalis (Froggatt 1898) WG91, H42 (see below for synonymy)
  A. messinae H79
  A. minimus N90
  ‘Hamitermes’ modicus Hill 1942 H42
  A. neogermanus Hill 1922 WG91, H42 (see below for synonymy)
  ‘Hamitermes’ obtusidens Mjöberg 1920 H42
  A. pallidiceps Gay 1969 [=A. pallidus Gay 1968 non Light 1932] G69
  A. pandus Gay 1968 J13
  A. parvulus N90
  ‘Hamitermes’ parvus Hill 1922 H42
  A. pavidus Hill 1942 J13 [=Hamitermes pavidus H42]
  A. perarmatus (Silvestri 1909) J13 (see below for synonymy)
  ‘Hamitermes’ perelegans Hill 1935 H42
  ‘Hamitermes’ ravus Hill 1942 H42
  ‘Hamitermes’ scopulus Mjöberg 1920 H42
  A. silvestrianus N90
  A. snyderi N90
  A. subtilis Gay 1968 J13
  A. unidentatus S57
  A. vicinus MC13
  A. vitiosus Hill 1935 WG91, H42 [=Hamitermes vitiosus H42]
  ‘Hamitermes’ westraliensis Hill 1928 H42
  A. wheeleri N90
  A. xylophagus Hill 1935 WG91, H42 [=Hamitermes xylophagus H42]

Amitermes laurensis Mjöberg 1920 WG91, H42 [=Hamitermes laurensis H42; incl. H. perplexus Hill 1922 (preoc.) H42, H. wilsoni Hill 1922 H42]

Amitermes meridionalis (Froggatt 1898) WG91, H42 [=Termes meridionalis H42, Hamitermes meridionalis H42, T. (Eutermes) meridionalis H42]

Amitermes neogermanus Hill 1922 WG91, H42 [=Hamitermes neogermanus H42; incl. H. perplexus var. victoriensis Hill 1922 H42]

Amitermes perarmatus (Silvestri 1909) J13 [=Monodontermes perarmatus H42, Hamitermes perarmatus H42, H. perornatus (l. c.) H42]

*Type species of generic name indicated


[A50] Ahmad, M. 1950. The phylogeny of termite genera based on imago-worker mandibles. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 95 (2): 37–86.

[G69] Gay, F. J. 1969. Amitermes pallidiceps, a new name for A. pallidus Gay (Isoptera: Termitidae). Journal of the Australian Entomological Society 8: 112.

[H42] Hill, G. F. 1942. Termites (Isoptera) from the Australian Region (including Australia, New Guinea and islands south of the Equator between 140°E. longitude and 170°W. longitude). Commonwealth of Australia Council for Scientific and Industrial Research: Melbourne.

[H79] Howse, P. E. 1979. The uniqueness of insect societies: aspects of defense and integration. In: Larwood, G., & B. R. Rosen (eds) Biology and Systematics of Colonial Organisms pp. 345–374. Academic Press: London.

[IVE07] Inward, D. J. G., A. P. Vogler & P. Eggleton. 2007. A comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of termites (Isoptera) illuminates key aspects of their evolutionary biology. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 44: 953–967.

[J13] Jones, D. T. 2013. The termites of Barrow Island, Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 83: 241–244.

[MC13] Majer, J. D., S. K. Callan, K. Edwards, N. R. Gunawardene & C. K. Taylor. 2013. Baseline survey of the terrestrial invertebrate fauna of Barrow Island. Records of the Western Australian Museum Supplement 83: 13–112.

[N90] Nutting, W. L. 1990. Insecta: Isoptera. In: Dindal, D. L. (ed.) Soil Biology Guide pp. 997–1032. John Wiley & Sones: New York.

[S57] Seevers, C. H. 1957. A monograph on the termitophilous Staphylinidae (Coleoptera). Fieldiana Zoology 40: 1–334.

[SVT04] Sornnuwat, Y., C. Vongkaluang & Y. Takematsu. 2004. A systematic key to termites of Thailand. Kasetsart Journal of Natural Science 38 (3): 349–368.

[WG91] Watson, J. A. L., & F. J. Gay. 1991. Isoptera (termites). In: CSIRO. The Insects of Australia: A textbook for students and research workers vol. 1 pp. 330–347. Melbourne University Press: Carlton (Victoria).

Last updated: 21 May 2022.

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