Formosan Termites: Facts, Identification & Control

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Formosan Termites: Facts, Identification & Control

The Coptotermes formosanus, or Formosan termite, prefers warm climates. Also known as a introduced subterranean termite.

Formosan termites are native to East Asia and were introduced to the United States in the 1940's, following World War II. Formosan termites were thought to have entered the country via various port cities, resulting in patchy concentrations. Their populations have continued to spread throughout the United States on cargo shipments of wood and other cellulose-based goods. Most scientists believe that Formosan termites have spread through infested wooden railroad stakes.

Formosan termites differ from other species in that their colonies reach much larger sizes. As such, they are considered the most destructive termite species in the country. In addition to the damage they cause to homes, they are capable of infesting boats and live trees.

All termite colonies are governed by a caste system. Queen termites are integral to the founding and growth of termite colonies.

Colonies are founded when a fertile potential queen termite joins a mating swarm. Swarms are comprised of male and female reproductives from fully-established termite colonies. Unlike worker and soldier termites, these reproductives are equipped with wings and are dark in color. After mating, swarmers land and shed their wings.

Although reproductive termites bear a distinct resemblance to winged ants, both males and females survive beyond the mating swarm and go on to found colonies. These insects then become known as the kings and queens of their new colonies. The termite queen is responsible for maintaining and increasing the population of the colony.