Termites spread globally by crossing the oceans on driftwood

An analysis of drywood termite DNA shows the wood-dwelling insects have crossed the oceans at least 40 times in their history, probably rafting inside driftwood


1 June 2022

Incisitermes schwarzi

Incisitermes schwarzi, a type of termite in the Kalotermitidae family

Ales Bucek

One group of termites are habitual seafarers, suggests new research. The wood-munching insects crossed the world’s oceans at least 40 times over the past few tens of millions of years. The termites probably set sail accidentally, rafting inside pieces of wood washed out to sea.

Drywood termites make up the second-largest termite family, the Kalotermitidae, with more than 400 species found throughout the tropics and subtropics. Unlike many other termite groups, members of drywood termite colonies don’t forage between wood …

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