Formosan termites are a subterranean termite species known for their destructive potential. Formosan termites are named after the island of Formosa, now known as Taiwan, one of their points of origin. From Asia, these wood-devouring insects made their way to the United States, where they quickly earned a reputation for being one of the most harmful invasive species.
Like other subterranean termite species, the Formosan species establishes its colonies in damp soil. These insects prefer damp, humid, warm climates. Florida, the Carolinas, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and other Southern states have reported Formosan termite infestations. Formosan termites are also common in Hawaii. Formosan insects can destroy trees and other woody plants, wooden structures inside a home, furniture, books, cardboard and other objects made from wood-containing materials.
Pest control professionals refer to Formosan termites as “super termites” because of their extremely destructive behavior. Formosan colonies are exceptionally large, ranging up to 300 feet or more. These termites do not confine themselves to devouring walls, floorboards or support beams in traditional residential homes; they may consume boats, furniture, or condominiums. Formosan termites may even consume other materials, such as insulation, asphalt or metal. Most significantly, these pests are able to consume wood at an extremely fast rate.
Although Formosan colonies can be formed either above or below the ground, many home infestations begin under the damp soil of a garden or yard. Like other species, Formosan insects are attracted to water. Moisture from garden hoses, drainage from gutters and leaky faucets or water collecting on porches or balconies can draw these pests. Once they have established their colony in the damp soil, workers will leave the colony in search of nourishment.
These persistent termites may build additional nests in trees, attics or other structures of your house. You may notice mud tubes running along your foundations, on your exterior walls or in the crawl spaces under your home. These tubes allow termites to travel back and forth between their nests and your dwelling without being exposed to air or light. In the warm spring months, winged reproductive members of the colony may swarm around your house, leaving piles of discarded wings. Swarming is an essential part of the process of forming new colonies.
Termites are reclusive insects, and you may not notice any signs of infestation until damage to your home has already occurred. Swarming insects, piles of tiny droppings or wings, hanging nests and mud tubes are signs of an infestation. You may notice soft spots under wallpaper or signs of sagging or buckling in the wooden support structures of your house. These signs indicate that the pests have already begun to compromise your home’s structural integrity. To prevent further damage, contact a licensed pest control service for inspection and treatment.
Preventing and Eliminating Formosan Termites
Preventing an invasion by Formosan termites may be easier than eliminating a colony once it’s been established on your property. You can protect your home by keeping your yard, porches, balconies and deck free from standing water. If you have a woodpile, wooden planters or other design elements in your landscape, keep them at a distance from your home. Before you bring railroad ties or logs to your property, inspect them carefully for signs of termite infestation. Fence posts and wooden mailboxes should be fixed in cement so that they will not contact the soil.
If you live in a damp, warm climate where Formosan termites are common, consider having barriers installed around your property. Chemical or metal barriers can prevent infestations and help you avoid costly repairs by keeping these pests away from your residence but make sure you know about chemical pesticide dangers. Many pest control services offer these preventive services as well as treatment for existing colonies. Chemical barriers may be injected into the soil to keep the pests away from your dwelling, while metal barriers are installed around the foundations of a building.
Liquid termiticides and cardboard, wood or paper baits are used to eradicate these pests. Licensed pest control providers inject large amounts of liquid termiticide into the soil around your home and into the structural components of your home. These professionals have extensive knowledge of termite behavior as well as an understanding of how and where infestations occur inside your dwelling. Qualified contractors are licensed by the state agency that regulates pest control in your area.
Although any homeowner can purchase termiticides at a hardware store or home improvement outlet, these products may be most effective in small, localized areas, like a fence post or woodpile. A full infestation of your home by Formosan termites can result in thousands of dollars of damage in a relatively short time. Rather than risking the structural integrity of your home, compare quotes from several of the top services in your area on the cost of professional treatment.