Formosan Termites

Coptotermes formosanus

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Formosan Termites

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Formosan termites are one of several termite species that threaten homes and other structures in Hawaii and parts of the southern half of the continental United States. Originally from Mainland China, Formosan termites have been established in the continental U.S. for only about 50 years. In fact, they are more vigorous and aggressive than native termites. In fact, the Formosan termite has been called the "Super termite" because of its tendency to support large colonies and its ability to consume large amounts of wood in a relatively short time.

A mature colony of Formosan termites can number in the millions and consume as much as 13 ounces of wood per day. As a result, they can severely damage a structure in as little as three months. Formosan termites are most visible during their swarming or mating flight. However, they actually cause more damage after the swarm is over. For this reason, it's extremely important to have your home inspected and protected by a pest professional as soon as you find out that you have Formosan termites on your property.

There are a few important facts you should understand about the behavior of Formosan termites:

  • It is important to maintain a dry home at all times to eliminate all conducive conditions above ground such as: leaky roofs, rotted eves, poorly sealed flashing around fireplaces and roof lines, etc. These conditions will increase the chances of acquiring an areal infestation of formosan termites wether or not your home is under a ground protection contract. For areal infestation(s) you should contact your pest management company for further recommendations.
  • Formosan colonies can be big. While native subterranean termite colonies support an average of 300,000 workers, Formosan colonies can average millions of workers, and Formosan queens can produce 1,000 eggs a day.
  • A Formosan colony can forage an area more than one acre in diameter.
  • As Formosans infest a structure, they use soil and wood cemented together with saliva and feces to build hard nests called cartons. These can be located in trees or within walls. Large cartons can actually cause walls to bulge. These nests can house thousands of termites as well as provide moisture to the colony. Once established, colonies can live without direct soil contact.
  • Formosan termites can also infest, damage and possibly destroy otherwise healthy trees.
  • Soldiers comprise about 10 percent of the colony.
  • Formosans will even penetrate through some non-wood materials. They have been known to chew through plaster, plastics, asphalt, and even thin sheets of soft metals like lead and copper.

Formosan termite swarmers are larger than native species. They may swarm in the evening and later in the year (May-June), and are strongly attracted to lights. You may see the swarmers near the porch light, windows, doors, etc. Swarms may come from an attic space into the home through vents/openings in the ceiling, as these termites are attracted to lights.

Termites are most visible to homeowners when they're swarming. Still, without protection termites can damage structures throughout the year. In fact, you could have an active termite infestation in your home and never see a swarm.

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