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Formosan Termites At A Glance

Formosan termites are a type of subterranean termite, but are much more destructive than other subterranean termites, so are often classified separately. The species was accidentally introduced to U.S. port cities shortly after WWII. Formosans were first found in southern China, followed by Japan, then Hawaii, and eventually, the continental United States.  Because of their preference for warm climates, they are rarely found north of 35° latitude, making the southern states more vulnerable to Formosan attacks.

Formosan termites’ destructiveness is a result of the sheer number of termites in each colony.  Nests number in the millions, instead of thousands as with other subterranean colonies.  The lifecycle of the Formosan mirrors that of other subterranean termites with queens and kings, soldiers, workers and reproductives. But in Formosan colonies, soldiers comprise 10-15% of the colony, compared to 1-2% in other subterranean species’ colonies.

These soldiers protect the large colonies as they forage through wood structures at a rapid pace.  A typical Formosan colony can consume up to 13 ounces of wood a day, causing significant damage to entire buildings in just months.  Adding to Formosans’ pervasiveness is their ability to thrive in less desirable conditions. When a water source can’t be found, Formosan termites will create special pockets inside the colony to hold water.  Since all subterranean termites – including Formosans – depend on water for survival, this is key to helping them stay active when immediate water sources dry up.

Two other distinct differences between Formosan termites and their fellow subterranean family members are their size and swarming behavior.  Formosans are larger in size with darker pigmented coloring – another defense against desiccation.  They also swarm at night, instead of during the day like other subterranean termites.

Only your Terminix termite professional can help you eliminate Formosan termites.  Call today for details.


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