Termites and Indian Agriculture

  • Bishwajeet PaulEmail author
  • Md. Aslam Khan
  • Sangeeta Paul
  • K. Shankarganesh
  • Sarbasis Chakravorty
Part of the Sustainability in Plant and Crop Protection book series (SUPP)


Termites are the most dominant arthropod decomposers in the tropical forests and show high diversity and abundance. Within tropical ecosystems, they play a key role in modifying the biotic and abiotic environment. The areas of higher altitudes and extreme temperatures have restricted the distribution of termite fauna in India. The species richness is more in the north-eastern regions, compared to rest of India. Out of 337 species of termites known so far from India, about 35 have been reported damaging agricultural crops and buildings. Odontotermes is the major mound-builder, whereas Coptotermes, Heterotermes, Microtermes, Microcerotermes and Trinervitermes are the major subterranean genera occurring in India.

The losses caused amount to several hundred million of rupees per year. Termites damage crops from sowing till harvest, and it is difficult to detect damage in the field. Usually it is too late when the symptoms are noticed. In general, termite damage is seen more (20–25%) in rain-fed crops than irrigated ones (10%). Perennial crops are usually attacked during dry seasons and annual crops towards harvest time. Termite infestations have been reported in fruit crops, sugarcane, cotton, paddy, maize, pearl millet, pulses, citrus, vegetables, spices, groundnut and potato in arid zones of India.

Indian agriculture depends on unpredictable rains and is dominated by small and marginal farmers, with meagre resource amounts for insect pest management. The majority of farmers follow the age old practices for management of insect pests. The crop and species diversity often makes the issue more complicated. India is divided into 15 agroclimatic zones. Technologies need to be developed for each zone separately, as no single technology would be effective for all of them. Termite control is a herculean task and is not an advisable option, and management in cropped areas should be our goal. Complete elimination or prevention of termites is neither feasible nor advisable, as their complex biology in many regards poses complications in devising management strategies. Optimistically, prospects for the development of new or improved technologies as well as public acceptance of alternative management appear good. Least toxic and nonchemical methods have been and will continue to be developed. In this chapter we discuss issues related to Indian agriculture and the contemporary practices, being followed by the majority of Indian farmers.


Termite management India Biodiversity Damage Agroecosystems 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bishwajeet Paul
    • 1
    Email author
  • Md. Aslam Khan
    • 2
  • Sangeeta Paul
    • 3
  • K. Shankarganesh
    • 1
  • Sarbasis Chakravorty
    • 4
  1. 1.Division of EntomologyICAR-Indian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Faculty of ScienceJazan UniversityJazanSaudi Arabia
  3. 3.Division of MicrobiologyICAR-Indian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia
  4. 4.Centre for Agricultural Technology Assessment & TransferICAR-Indian Agricultural Research InstituteNew DelhiIndia

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