South Florida, famous for her stunning array of beaches and picturesque barrier islands just added one more item to her long list of beautiful things: Termites. If you’re like most folks, you prefer your termites as far away from your home as possible but, yes, according to reporter Brad Buck’s May 16th article, on Phys.org, a University of Florida (UF) study, recently published in Insectes Sociaux introduced the idea that some subterranean termite specimens deemed “pretty” for their symmetrical traits, “are more destructive than their uglier counterparts.”
Symmetrical traits indicate the health and maturity of termite colonies
Conducted by Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center entomologist, Thomas Chovenac and UF/IFAS entomology professor Nan-Yao Su, the research team determined that symmetry in termite traits pointed to the overall health and age of termite colonies. Symmetrical or “pretty” specimens tend, “to come from mature colonies,” with large populations, said Chouvenc, adding, that “so-called ‘ugly’ termites,” with asymmetrical traits, “generally come from young colonies. Such ‘ugly’ termites develop under stressful conditions, are short-lived and not very efficient at maintaining the colony.”
The researchers concluded that the larger and more established termite colonies are, the prettier the members are and the more destructive they can be. “If you have a mature colony with a million termites at 100 percent of their capacity, your house may be in trouble,” Chouvenc said. “If the colony is very young, with just a few hundred termites in poor shape, then it would take more time for them to damage a structure. In the end, mature termite colonies are the ones doing the most economic damage.”
Researchers studied Asian subterranean termites, an aggressive non-native species
Speaking of damage, the research team focused their study on Asian subterranean termites, an invasive species introduced to the South Florida area in the 1990s. Along with South Florida’s other invasive species, Formosan subterranean termites, Asian termites account for a major percentage of the $40 billion-dollar expense caused by termites annually, worldwide.
Asian subterranean termites are voracious eaters, bent on population growth
Invasive subterranean termites forage further than native subterranean species and show more aggressive patterns, eating through plastic, wiring and concrete to get to cellulose, their food source. Because one Asian subterranean termite queen can lay 1,000 eggs a day, Asian colonies can grow very rapidly. Caring for their young, a factor in the development of “pretty” termite reproductives, soldiers and workers, researchers noted that in younger colonies, under more stress than more mature colonies, young termites did not get as much care as in more mature colonies, with more workers to nurture the young.
Asian subterranean colonies, supporting multiple queens, accelerate the formation of new nests within colonies. With multiple queens, Asian termite populations can number in the millions. More workers caring for the young equals more extensive damage to your home, in a shorter period of time than other less organized or aggressive termites.
UF/IFAS study suggests eliminating young colonies
The UF/IFAS study also pointed out that “because young colonies have small numbers of poorly efficient termites, compared to mature colonies, there is an incentive to eliminate such young colonies before they grow too big, to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place.”
Excellent idea except for the fact that most homeowners are unaware that termites are lurking under the ground entering their homes, until significant damage is already underway.
A free termite inspection gets your home and property ready for termite prevention
Starting with a free termite inspection, our entomologist-trained and certified technicians inspect your home and property for signs of termite activity. Subterranean termites burrow through the soil outside your home, building mud foraging tunnels to transport wood from your home to their nests.
Our customized plan stops termites before they can enter your home
Our goal is to intercept termites before they can enter your home, by devising a customized plan and Preventative Termite Treatments that protect your perimeter so it is cut off from termites, ‘pretty’ or otherwise. Year round, our comprehensive termite protection plan safeguards your most expensive investment.
Any current infestation is addressed quickly and Hulett will return to address any termite activity at no extra charge as long as the annual termite bond is kept active.
Hulett Environmental Services has been family owned and operated for 3 generations making us the leading pest control company in South Florida for over 45 years. Contact us today for a free in-home termite inspection!