The Formosan Subterranean Termite – What you need to know

The Formosan Subterranean Termite, is the most notorious termite species in North America and East Asia, while in large parts of tropical and subtropical Asia, we have the Asian Subterranean Termite. While Asian and Formosan termites were first discovered in Taiwan, many species have since spread to other countries via shipping cargo. This is how they were first introduced to South Florida.

Formosan and Asian termites are able to develop huge colonies numbering a few million, while their foraging tunnels can extend up to 350 feet in length.

In this way, a single colony alone can reduce the woodwork of a whole block of houses into hollow skeletons within a couple of years. They are also known to chew through plastic, foam, insulation, copper, and asphalt to get to their food, which not only comprises wood, but paper, and cardboard or anything remotely containing cellulose.

It’s easy to see why Formosan and Asian Termites are called super termites. These termites also have the amazing ability to replace their queen and king with secondary reproductives should something happen to their primary queen and king, making eradication of colonies even more difficult. Very few termite species have such an amazing capability.

In the US, the Formosan termite is the top termite pest having been introduced into the country 50 years ago. They have now spread over many southern states, including Florida, California, Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and even Hawaii. The Asian termite was introduced to south Florida through the Ports of Miami, Everglades, and Palm Beach 8-10 years ago. In the US, Formosan termites alone cost an estimated $1 billion a year in damage, repair, and other forced measures to deal with them. Hawaii has been badly hit because of the ideal soil and climate which resembles their native Taiwan. Collectively, Formosan termites cost the world billions of dollars annually in damage to buildings, structures and tree plantations, and they seem to be invading new countries, as some species do not really need soil to establish a nest. In certain circumstances, Formosan and Asian termites have been known to establish an arial colony which includes a carton nest. When this happens, the termites do not need to constantly return to the soil for moisture. This situation can cause serious problems in any structure as traditional treatment methods are rendered useless.

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