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1 December 2018 A New Cryptotermes (Blattodea (Isoptera): Kalotermitidae) from Honduras and Known Distribution of New World Cryptotermes Species
Rudolf H. Scheffrahn
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Cryptotermes garifunae sp. nov. (Isoptera: Kalotermitidae) is described from a single colony sample collected on the coast of Honduras. This species represents the twenty-second Cryptotermes species known from the Caribbean Basin and West Indies. The C. garifunae soldier and imago are the smallest of the New World Cryptotermes. Distribution maps, constructed from 1,452 new records, are given for all 31 species of New World Cryptotermes.

Cryptotermes Banks (Blattodea (Isoptera): Kalotermitidae), now with 29 endemic species (31 total) is the most speciose kalotermitid genus in the New World. The West Indies and Caribbean mainland, now with 22 species, has a disproportionately diverse number of Cryptotermes compared to the rest of the world. After the world revision by Bacchus (1987), the West Indian group was revised by Scheffrahn & Křeček (1999), adding 12 new species. Another new West Indian species, C. bracketti Scheffrahn & Křeček, was added by Scheffrahn et al. (2006). The latest mainland endemic Cryptotermes to be described include C. abruptus Scheffrahn & Křeček from Mexico (Scheffrahn et al. 1998) and C. colombianus Casalla, Scheffrahn & Korb from Colombia (Casalla et al. 2016).

Cryptotermes brevis (Walker), endemic to the coastal desert of Peru and Chile (Atacama), is the most economically important and widespread kalotermitid pest of dry wood worldwide (Scheffrahn et al. 2009). Both Cryptotermes dudleyi Banks, a pest species from the Indian subcontinent, and C. havilandi (Sjöstedt), a pest from equatorial Africa, have been introduced by human commerce to the New World. I herein describe Cryptotermes garifunae sp. nov. from a single colony collected on the Caribbean coast of Honduras. I also update the distribution of all described Cryptotermes species in the New World from records in the University of Florida Termite Collection and from the literature.

Materials and Methods

Microphotographs (Figs. 1, 2) were taken as multi-layer montages using a Leica M205C stereomicroscope controlled by Leica Application Suite version 3 software (Leica Geosystems, Inc., Norcross, Georgia, USA). Preserved specimens were taken from 85% ethanol and suspended in a pool of Purell® Hand Sanitizer (GOJO Industries, Akron, Ohio, USA) to position the specimens on a transparent Petri dish background.

Cryptotermes distribution records were taken either from unpublished localities in the University of Florida Termite Collection in Davie, Florida, or from the literature (Table 1). Distribution maps (Figs. 35) were prepared using ArcMap 10.3 software (ESRI, Redlands, California, USA).


Cryptotermes garifunae Scheffrahn sp. nov. 2018 (Figs. 1, 2)

  • DEALATED MALE IMAGO (Fig. 1, Table 2). Head and nota light yellowish brown. Postclypeus hyaline. Chevron pattern on fore wing scales slightly darker than mesonotum. Legs very light yellow concolorous with abdominal sternites. Eyes dark grey, occupying 2/5 distance between vertex and genal margin, the latter of which are closer; ellipsoid with rectate margin at antennal socket. Ocelli moderately large, hyaline, touching eyes; oval except for acute wisp at dorsal margin. Antennae article formula 2 > 3 < 4 < 5. Pronotum wider than long, distinctly narrower than head width at eyes; anterior and posterior margins nearly rectate, sides slightly convex. Arolia present.

  • SOLDIER (Fig. 2, Table 3). Head, in lateral view, grading from hyaline at the cervical margin to dark ferruginous brown at frontal flange; in dorsal view coloration is a patchwork of reddish brown to dark ferruginous brown corresponding with thickness of cuticular rugosity.

  • Mandibles concolorous with frons. Anterior pronotal margin yellowish brown, remainder yellowish. Head capsule cuboidal in dorsal view, sides nearly parallel until anterior protrusion of frontal flange; dorsal outline of head capsule, in lateral view, forming a weak “s” shape from flange to occiput.

  • Texture of dorsal rugosity moderate; more rugose in anterior half including frontal flange and frons. Frons deeply concave. Frontal flange robust, elevated, with median notch continuous with midvertex concavity; in dorsal view, flange forms circular 120° arch. Eye spots very faint.

  • Labrum short, apex upturned. Mandibles short, angular, bent about 120°; finely rugose. Dentition weakly developed.

  • In dorsal view, frontal horns large, globular, projecting beyond the frontal flange reaching the posterior margin of the postclypeus; genal horns small blunt, apex in line with anterior margin of antennal socket. In lateral view, frontal horns nearly semicircular, projecting beyond base of genal horns. Antenna with 11 articles; formula 2 > 3 = 4 < 5. Anterior margin of pronotum incised with weak irregular sinuosity; anterolateral corners square, lateral margins and posterior margin form an evenly rounded outline.


  • HOLOTYPE soldier HONDURAS: Kerala, Laguna Guaimoreto (16.0132°N, 85.9184°W, elev. 6 m asl), 29-V-2007, J.A. Chase (UF no. HN273).


  • Named after the Garifuna people who live along the coastline of Honduras.


  • The dealated imago of C. garifunae, along with C. fatulus (Light) and C. undulans Scheffrahn & Křeček, are the smallest of the New World Cryptotermes. However, the C. garifunae imago has a lighter yellowish coloration than the other 2. The soldier of C. garifunae is the smallest of the New World Cryptotermes with the exception of C. fatulus (Light) which is of similar size but lacks head capsule rugosity.

  • In the key given by Scheffrahn and Křeček (1999), the new species will key out at couplet 10 leading to C. darlingtonae sp. nov. and modified as follows:

    10. Frontal horns, in lateral view, about 3 times larger than genal horns 11

    10′. Frontal horns, in lateral view either subequal or about 5 times larger than genal horns 12

    11. Genal horns projecting forward and only slightly recessed behind frontal horns, left mandible 0.68 to 0.75 mm long (Figs. 40–42) C. darlingtonae sp. nov.

    11′. Genal horns blunt, apex in line with anterior margin of antennal fossae, left mandible 0.57 mm long C. garifunae

    12. Frontal horns, in lateral view, about 5 times larger than genal horns; genal horns projecting more dorsally and greatly recessed behind frontal horns, left mandible 0.63 to 0.72 mm long (Figs. 67–69) C. pyrodomus

    12′. Frontal horns, in lateral view, subequal; smaller species, left mandible 0.56 to 0.62 mm long (Figs. 19–21) C. aequacornis n. sp.

  • In addition to Cryptotermes localities reported in Casalla et al. (2016), Scheffrahn & Křeček (1999), Scheffrahn et al. (2003), and Scheffrahn et al. (2009); Figures 3 to 5 include 1,452 new Cryptotermes records and localities recorded in the University of Florida Termite Collection. Only endemic C. brevis localities are included in these figures because of its expansive non-endemic pest localities (Scheffrahn et al. 2009). Some localities yielded more than 1 sample of the same Cryptotermes species. New records are from Florida and Georgia, the West Indies (The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Turks and Caicos Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and The US Virgin Islands), Central America (Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama), and South America (Bolivia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Paraguay, Peru, and Venezuela).

  • Table 1.

    Literature localities of New World Cryptotermes species not encompassed in the University of Florida collection.


    Fig. 1.

    Dorsal (A) and lateral (B) views of the Cryptotermes garifunae female dealate (vertex of head capsule partially collapsed). Arrow of fore tarsus (C) points to arolium of dealate.


    Table 2.

    Measurements (mm) of the Cryptotermes garifunae sp. nov. male dealate (n = 1).


    Fig. 2.

    Dorsal (A), anterodorsal (B), lateral (C), and ventral (D) views of Cryptotermes garifunae soldier head capsule. Arrows in lateral view of area near antennal fossa (E) point to frontal horn (FH) and genal horn (GH).


    Table 3.

    Measurements (mm) of the Cryptotermes garifunae sp. nov. soldier (n = 3).


    Fig. 3.

    Distribution of Cryptotermes species (Group 1) in Florida, the West Indies, and Caribbean Basin from the University of Florida termite collection and literature records. “UF collection ALL” represents other collection locations in the University of Florida termite collection.


    Fig. 4.

    Distribution of Cryptotermes species (Group 2) in the West Indies, and Caribbean Basin from the University of Florida termite collection and literature records.


    Fig. 5.

    Distribution of Cryptotermes species in South America from the University of Florida termite collection and literature records. Only endemic records of C. brevis are shown.



    Although the imago morphology is quite conserved, the head capsules of Cryptotermes soldiers are variously adorned with protuberances and rugosities that facilitate their phragmotic defensive strategies. The most extreme case of phragmosis is exemplified by Cryptotermes cryptognathus from Jamaica, which has a wine cork-shaped head capsule and functionless mandibles (Scheffrahn et al. 1998). Cryptotermes chasei, on the other hand, has very long crushing mandibles and weak cephalic phragmosis (Scheffrahn 1993). Cryptotermes garifunae is intermediate between these 2 soldier forms.

    Presently, C. garifunae and C. cubioceps are the only Cryptotermes known from their type localities. Cryptotermes bracketti is known only from San Salvador Island, The Bahamas, but it is present throughout the island. All other New World Cryptotermes species show much greater distributions (Figs. 35). Cryptotermes cubioceps was described by Emerson (1925) from a single soldier collected in Guyana. It has not been collected again, even though considerable collecting efforts have been conducted in French Guiana (Bourguignon et al. 2011; Davies 2002). Whereas C. garifunae is the smallest New World Cryptotermes, C. cubioceps, with a head width of 2.12 mm, is the largest.

    Figures 3 to 5 have reduced the Wallacean shortfall, defined as the state of incompleteness in understanding of geographical distributions of taxa (Lomolino 2004) for New World Cryptotermes. The maxium range extensions are increased as follows: C. abruptus – 437 km; C. aequicornis – 864 km; C. cavifrons – 681 km; C. cylindroceps – 471 km; C. chacoensis – 379 km; and C. veruculosus – 2,447 km.


    Thanks to Jim Chase for persisting through thick brush and a heavy mosquito presence to collect C. garifunae.

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    Rudolf H. Scheffrahn "A New Cryptotermes (Blattodea (Isoptera): Kalotermitidae) from Honduras and Known Distribution of New World Cryptotermes Species," Florida Entomologist 101(4), 657-662, (1 December 2018).
    Published: 1 December 2018
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