Magnetic Termites

Close up of the face of a Magnetic or Compass Termite colony. [Photographed by Peter Rowland]
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Scientific Name: Amitermes meridionalis

Size: Total Length 6 mm (soldier)

What does it look like?

The Magnetic Termite soldier has a yellowish head and dark mandibles curved inward with single ‘tooth’. Workers pale, alates brown with pale wings. 

Where is it found?

Restricted to northern NT. 

What are its habitats & habits?

The Magnetic Termite, or Compass Termite, is found in grasslands, where large eusocial colonies construct the distinctive wedge-shaped mounds which stand up to 4m tall. Each mound is orientated with its main axis facing north-south (giving the species its common name), thus reducing its exposure to the full heat of the sun. The larger surfaces on the mound receive sunlight only during the early morning and late afternoon. The outer wall of the mound is thickened and protect the enclosed galleries that surround the almost solid core and house the termites. The worker termites collect dead grass from the surrounding grassland, mainly at night, and return it to the mound, where it is chewed up and stored for the colony to feed on.

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Cover of the book, A Naturalist's Guide to the Insects of Australia

This species features in my book A Naturalist’s Guide to the Insects of Australia

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