Pacific Pests, Pathogens and Weeds - Online edition

Pacific Pests, Pathogens, Weeds & Pesticides

Coconut termite (116)

Click/tap on images to enlarge
  • Narrow distribution. Known only from the central Pacific. On coconuts, but also stilt roots of Pandanus. An important pest.
  • After the nuptial flight, the queen lays eggs, producing workers and a few solders. Once the colony is established, it begins hollowing out the centre of the palm; this makes it likely to snap off in the wind.
  • Characteristic grooves covered with frass and wood are made in the “bark” for reasons unknown.
  • Cultural control: dig out and burn palms as soon as net-like grooves are seen.
  • Chemical control: not appropriate for this pest; the chemicals might contaminate the fresh water lens.
Common Name

Coconut termite

Scientific Name

Neotermes rainbowi. A related termite, Neotermes samoanus, is present in Samoa.

AUTHOR Grahame Jackson
Information from Waterhouse DF (1993) Neotermes rainbowi (Hill). Biological Control Pacific Prospects - Supplement 2. ACIAR Monograph No. 20. Brown Prior Anderson, Burwood, Victoria; and from CABI (2019) Neotermes rainbowi (coconut termite). Crop Protection Compendium. Photos 1-4 Gerald McCormak, Cook Island Biodiversity & Natural Heritage. (

Produced with support from the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research under project PC/2010/090: Strengthening integrated crop management research in the Pacific Islands in support of sustainable intensification of high-value crop production, implemented by the University of Queensland and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Copyright © 2022. All rights reserved.