Food resources exploited by termites (Insecta: Isoptera)


  • Juliana Toledo Lima Universidade Estadual Paulista, Instituto de Biociências, Departamento de Biologia
  • Ana Maria Costa-Leonardo Universidade Estadual Paulista, Instituto de Biociências, Departamento de Biologia


feeding habits, nourishment, food behavior, types of food, feeding-preference


Termites are social insects belonging to the order Isoptera and constitute one of the dominant groups of invertebrates in terrestrial environments of the tropical region. Currently, there are around 2,900 species described in seven families: Mastotermitidae, Kalotermitidae, Termopsidae, Hodotermitidae, Serritermitidae, Rhinotermitidae and Termitidae. The Neotropical region contains 537 species, and from these, approximately 300 occur in Brazil and belong to the families Kalotermitidae, Rhinotermitidae, Serritermitidae and Termitidae. Although the Isoptera has been known by their potential as pest, the ecological role of the termites in the environment is primordial since they play a role as primary consumers and/or decomposers in natural ecosystems. These insects participate actively in the crushing, decomposition, humus production and mineralization of a variety of cellulose-based resources. A great diversity of organic material, in several stages of decomposition, may serve as food for termites, including wood (sound or decayed), grass, herbaceous plants, litter, fungi, nests built by other termite species, dung and carrion, lichen and even organic material present in the soil (humus). This vast range of food sources allowed the termites to occupy almost all the tropical and temperate regions of the Earth, occurring practically in all the terrestrial environments, natural or modified by the human species. Therefore, termites are found in the tropical and temperate forests, cerrados, savannas, caatingas, shallow places, mangrove regions, low vegetation stems, crops, pastures and urban environments.




How to Cite

Lima, J. T., & Costa-Leonardo, A. M. (2007). Food resources exploited by termites (Insecta: Isoptera). Biota Neotropica, 7(2). Retrieved from //



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