Discovered by termitologists from Germany, the United States and Colombia, the new termite has been officially named Proneotermes macondianus.
“The species name honors Nobel laureate Gabriel García Marquez and the fictional town ‘Macondo’ in his novel ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude,” the scientists explained.
“Macondiano(a) is also a Spanish world used in Colombia to describe an incredible, rare or surprising event that could only be compared with the fictional universe and magical realism of this novel.”
“Proneotermes macondianus may have been one of those characters playing in the novel during the destruction of Macondo, remaining unrecognized until today,” added lead author Dr. Robin Casalla, from Freiburg University in Germany and the Universidad del Norte in Colombia.
The soldiers of Proneotermes macondianus have a characteristic elongated, rectangular heads, about 5 – 7 mm long, ranging in color from black (at the tip) to ferruginous orange (at the back).
The species lives in small colonies of about 20 individuals. It has a voracious appetite for drywood, especially thin branches of less than 2 cm in diameter.
Although few drywood termites are considered pests in some urban areas, this termite lives only in the wild and prefers tropical dry forests.
“Proneotermes macondianus was found in tropical dry forests of the Colombian Caribbean near to coastal areas up to 25 km inland,” Dr. Casalla and co-authors said.
The new species is just the third member of the genus Proneotermes known to date.
“For more than a century, the drywood termite genus Proneotermes was represented by two species, Proneotermes latifrons from Venezuela and Proneotermes perezi from Costa Rica,” the researchers said.
Research describing the new species is published online in the journal ZooKeys.