The Formosan subterranean termite, commonly referred to as a “super termite,” is the most aggressive and potentially destructive termite species in the United States.
The Formosan subterranean termite received its name because it was first described in Taiwan (otherwise known as Formosa) in the early 1900s. The termite is believed to have originated from southern China, and apparently was transported to Japan before the 1600s. It arrived in Hawaii more than a century ago, and is thought to have reached the U.S. mainland in the mid-1940s on military ships returning form the Pacific during World War II.
Infestations have been discovered in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Most inland infestations have been traced to the shipment of infested wood products, particularly recycled railroad ties used in landscaping.
Although its distribution is more limited than some termite species, the Formosan subterranean termite poses a severe threat in areas where it is established. In Hawaii, this termite can cause major structural damage to a home in six months, and almost complete destruction within two years.
In the Southeast, field colonies commonly extend into the millions, foraging over distances in excess of 100 meters. When compared to other termite species, Formosan termites generally cause more structural damage in a shorter period of time – primarily because populations tend to be larger – not because individual termites eat wood faster.
Although Formosan termites ordinarily have colonies traceable to the soil, they are also known to have aerial nests with no ground connection. Aerial infestations account for about 25% of structural infestations in urban southeastern Florida and more than 50% in Honolulu, Hawaii.
With these frightening facts in mind, have you had your annual termite inspection this year?