Psammotermes hypostoma

Psammotermes hypostoma (Desneux)

(Sometimes spelled Psammotermes hybostoma).

Common name: Sand termite.

Taxonomic position: Insecta, Hemimetabola, Blattodea, Isoptera, Rhinotermitidae.

Morphology: The bodies of the “king” and “queen” are sclerotized, the head and thorax are brown to black, the abdomen dark yellow. The workers are pale yellow, with brown heads.

Geographic distribution: From North Africa to the Arabian Peninsula.

Life history: This termite lives in arid zones and builds its colonies in sandy areas. It has several soldier types that differ in size. The species feeds on wood, dead and sometimes living plant parts, on almost anything that contains cellulose. They excavate galleries throughout their food as they consume it, and thus damage wood-built houses. Subterranean termites construct aboveground earthen runways (or tubes) for protection against natural enemies and desiccation.

Economic damage: The workers infest all date palm tree parts the year around, boring into the stems and the frond bases of weak trees. They often construct sand covered galleries adjacent to the stem. Termites also inflict great damage to various wooden structures, such as unprotected buildings.


Monitoring: The activities of P. hypostoma and the results of control efforts can be assessed by burying wooden sticks around a nest, to a depth of 10 cm in the ground and observing relevant termite damage

Cultural control: Preventing termite access to plants, reducing termite numbers in the vicinity of plants and increasing plant resistance. Also, pressure treatment of timber with appropriate chemicals, like copper chrome arsenate or creosote oil, and/or dipping and brushing with these chemicals

Chemical control: Treating palm fronds with imidacloprid, a carbamate and/or an organophosphate provided satisfactory control for 2 months or more.

Biological control: This approach is not very likely to be successful due to the termites’ social structure and their behavioral responses to affected termite individuals. However, entomopathogenic fungi and entomopathogenic nematodes may be effective. Ants are major predators, but their controlling effect is unclear.


Abd El-Latif, N.A. and Solaiman, R.H.A. 2014. Foraging activity of the subterranean sand termite, Psammotermes hybostoma (Desneux) and its associated fungus Metarhizium anisopliae under natural environmental conditions in El-Fayoum Governorate, Egypt. Egyptian Journal of Biological Pest Control 24: 321-328.

Abdel-Galil F.A. and Abdel Gawad, K.H. 1987. Predation of sand termite Psammotermes hypostoma Desneux by three terrestrial predators under laboratory conditions (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Bulletin de la Societe Entomologoque d’Egypte 66: 285-291.

Abushama, F.T. and Abdel Nur, H.O. 1973. Damages Inflicted on wood by the termite Psammotermes hybostoma Desneux in Khartoum District, Sudan, and measurements against them. Journal of Applied Entomology 73:216–223.

Ahmed, M.A.I., Eraky, E.-S. A., Mohamed,M.F. and A.-A.S.,Soliman. 2015. Potential toxicity assessment of novel selected pesticides against sand termite, Psammotermes hypostoma Desneux workers (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) under field conditions in Egypt. Journal of Plant Protection Research 55: 193-197.

El-Bassiouny, A.R. and El-Rahman, R.M.A. 2011. Susceptibility of Egyptian subterranean termite to some entomopathogenic nematodes. Egyptian Journal of Agricultural Research 89: 121-135.

Mamadou, A. and Sarr, M. 2009. Impact of two insecticides used in the control of the desert locust on Psammotermes hybostoma Desneux (lsoptera: Rhinotermitidae) in Niger. African Entomology 17:147-153.

Solaiman, R. H. A. and Abd El-Latif, N.A. 2014. Isolation and pathogenicity of the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae (Metschnikoff) against the subterranean termite, Psammotermes hybostoma Desneux, (Isoptera). Egyptian Journal of Biological Pest Control 24: 329-334.