Formosan Subterranean Termites

Christopher Dunaway, Morgan, Alan L., Ring, Dennis R.  |  7/29/2011 10:49:45 PM

Formosan termites are easily identified by the large numbers of aggressive soldiers that appear at a breach in their fortifications. (Photo by Chris Dunaway.)

These formosan alates still have their wings attached. They will shed the wings at the completion of the mating flight. (Photo by Chris Dunaway.)

The wallboard has been cut a way to reveal a Formosan subterranean termite nest hidden in the wall. (Photo by Chris Dunaway.)

Formosan subterranean termites are an invasive species that is not native to the United States. These termites were introduced into the mainland United States in the 1940s and 1950s. Their primary conveyance was through infested crates and cargo returning from the World War II campaign in the South Pacific. And even today Formosan termites are still being introduced into new areas within the United States through the movement of infested material. This could include crates, pallets, railroad ties, rail cars, boats, trailers, potted plants, lumber, mulch, etc.

It is important to remember that Formosan termites are still a subterranean species. The main nest is usually underground, and they enter structures and homes by building shelter tubes up the foundation or through direct wood-to-ground contact. After entry into a structure they can build large nests within void spaces and also locate and exploit other sources of moisture. Once Formosan termites are established within a structure, it can be very difficult to eliminate them.

The Formosan subterranean termite nest is constructed from soil, masticated wood and saliva, and excrement. The nest will completely fill an empty void and can be very large. These nests can be the home of millions of individual termites. They are also a reservoir of moisture that can sustain the resident termites for long periods of time without other moisture sources. The most common location for these nests within a home is in the space created between the studs and the interior and exterior walls.

The numbers of termites in a Formosan termite colony can be greater than 10 million individuals. This is much greater than the numbers of termites in native termite colonies, which usually number in the hundred thousands. This enormous difference in numbers means that Formosan termites can do much more damage than native termites in a short period of time.

For additonal information please see:

Formosan Soldiers

Alates "Swarmers"

Why are they called Supertermites?

Termites in Trees

Content by Chris Dunaway

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