Termite Spotlight: Formosan Subterranean Termites

Formosan Subterranean TermitesThe cornucopia of household pests that thrive in South Florida’s ideal conditions certainly won’t object. While most of us are familiar with Florida’s mosquitoes, ticks, rodents and other pests that carry pathogens and transmit diseases, other pests are out to get your house and they’re pretty sneaky about it.

Formosan subterranean termites live in underground nests and tunnel into your home in search of cellulose and non-cellulose materials

Formosan subterranean termites may go unnoticed for a while in homes, because they live in underground nests in the soil, outside your home and travel through tubes in search of the cellulose in timber structures, as well as support beams in stucco and brick buildings. But they don’t stop there. Formosan subterranean termites will also attack live trees, as well as plastic, plaster, asphalt and thin sheets of metal, according to a University of Florida report.

The point is that Formosa subterranean termites are hungry and bent on expanding their populations. This invasive species is capable of growing much larger populations in a shorter amount of time than domestic subterranean termites, wreaking much more havoc on Miami’s metropolitan area, as well as Monroe, Broward and Collier County homes. So where did these aggressive termites come from?

Originating in Southern China, Formosan termites got their name from a Taiwanese description, after they were discovered in Japan

Coptotermes formosas, the Formosan subterranean termite is thought to have originated in Southern China and was transported before the 1600s to Japan but this termite takes its name from a Taiwanese description in the early 1900s. From Japan, the Formosan termite made it to Hawaii in the late 1800s. Reported in South Africa in the 1950s, by the 1960s this destructive termite species appeared in Texas, Louisiana and South Carolina. “By 1980, a well-established colony was thriving in a Hallandale, Florida,” (Broward County), according to scientists at the University of Florida.

Formosan subterranean termites have piqued homeowner interests in the sheer force of these relentless insects.

With the capacity to forage for up to 300 feet, Formosan termites build primary nests, with many satellite nests that can contain populations of several million termites. By comparison, native subterranean termites produce colonies in the hundreds of thousands. Other notable differences include:

  • Increased percentage of soldier termites in comparison to native subterranean termites, with 10-15% Formosan soldiers, compared to the 1-2% soldier population in native species
  • Formosan termites can cause more structural damage than native species due to their impressive population size
  • More potential for damage to nearby structures due to their foraging range of 300 feet
  • Formosan communities, once established in an area, haven’t been eradicated to date
  • Formosan termites can chew through electrical wiring and cables, causing fire hazards

Where can these marauding subterranean termites be found in Florida today?

University of Florida entomologists report that Formosan subterranean termite activity has expanded, since the first colony in Hallandale, to include “all major urban areas of Florida,” including much of “the coastal areas of Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach Counties.”

Tips for preventing Formosan termites entering your home

  • Repair leaky plumbing, replace damp wood and correct areas of your home that are prone to moisture, such as areas where air-conditioner condensation collects.
  • Make sure gutter downspouts drain away from your foundation.
  • Keep irrigation systems away from your house and foundation
  • Keep mulch at least 6” away from your foundation
  • Pile wood at least 20 feet from your house.

Get real protection with Hulett’s Annual Termite Protection program

While these measures can help deter subterranean termites, in order to really protect your home from termites in South Florida, contact a trusted, professional pest control service, such as Hulett Environmental Services to enroll in our Annual Termite Protection program.

Protect your home and loved ones with the highest quality, most environmentally responsible materials and IPM methods available. We also offer a million-dollar warranty against subterranean termites, as part of our Healthy Home Guarantee.

Contact Hulett to protect your home and loved ones from Formosan subterranean termites, as well as the vast array of household pests that thrive in the southeastern tip of the US. We will happily send a trained expert to inspect your property and diagnose the issue at no charge. With over 45 years as local leaders in responsible pest control, our skilled and trained staff, led by owner-operator and Graduate Entomologist, Tim Hulett, deliver the most convenient and effective pest control in South Florida, all day, every day, season to season, year after year!