The Formosan subterranean termite is one of the most destructive species of termites in the United States. If you find evidence that a colony of these termites has infested your property, it is important that you call an exterminator and enact damage control as soon as possible to curb the amount of damage to wooden trees and structures. Formosan termites are the most aggressive and destructive type of termite in the world, so immediate, skilled Baton Rouge termite control is important to limit their spread and effect. Read on to find out more about Formosan termites and the extent of damage that they can do.
History of Formosan Termites
The Formosan termite is not native to the southern United States, having instead migrated to the area from East Asia. It is thought that the termite originated in southern China, and from there migrated to other countries by ship. It gets its name from Formosa, a former name for Taiwan.
The termite did not become widespread outside of Asia until the 20th century and did not make its way to the continental United States until the 1960s. Colonies of Formosan termites have been reported in 11 states, most of which are in the southeast. However, it is also well-established in Hawaii.
Formosan termites are rarely found north of the Mason-Dixon line since the eggs require a warm, humid climate in which to hatch. For this reason, it is likely that termite colonies will remain restricted to southern states.
Formosan Termite Colonies
Formosan termite colonies are made up of three different types of insects: workers, protector soldiers, and reproductive alates. Formosan workers do most of the venturing out from the colony to procure food, so these are the type you are most likely to encounter in your home.
Soldiers stay close to the nest to defend it. When disturbed, they excrete a white liquid that is used for defense.
Reproductive alates are relatively uncommon compared to the other types of termites. They are responsible for spreading the colony and establishing new reproductive caches of eggs.
In addition to these types of termites, each colony also has a king and queen who remain underground and will generally not be seen by the casual observer. The queen termite can live up to 15 years and produce up to 2,000 eggs every day.
How to Identify Formosan Termites
Each type of termite in the colony looks different. The worker termites tend to look quite similar to other species of termites. They are about half an inch long and tan in color. While most types of North American termites have square heads, Formosan termites have oval-shaped heads. However, this can be difficult to determine due to the small size of the termites.
Soldier termites are slightly larger than workers and generally darker in color. They also have larger, dark-colored mandibles in the front of their heads. These soldier termites can be extremely aggressive when defending their nests and may even swarm people who venture too close.
Alates are the easiest type of termite to identify, as they look considerably different from other species. They are about an inch long and light brown in color, with long wings that are covered in small hairs.
Formosan Termite Damage
Formosan termites infestations can be identified by the material used to make nests, as well as by the damage caused to wood. Nests are gray or brown in color and have a slightly rough texture on the outside. They are often found underneath floors or between walls, but they may show up under sinks or in cupboards that are not used frequently.
Termite damage is generally caused from the inside out. This means that termites hollow out wood structures and cause damage that is not always immediately visible on the outside. If you suspect a termite infestation, try tapping the infected area and listening for a hollow sound. You may also notice damage such as blistering or peeling around the affected area. If you are performing renovations to your house, you may notice smooth tunnels inside wooden walls or beams. This is also a sure sign of termite infestation.
Economic Damage Caused by Formosan Termites
Formosan termites are far more aggressive than other species and are one of the most destructive pests in the United States. It is estimated that they cause over $1 billion annually in the United States alone.
While a single Formosan termite does not consume more wood than a single termite of any other species, Formosan colonies tend to be quite a bit larger than native termites. Formosan termites also tend to dig more extensive underground burrows, allowing them to damage multiple structures that may be quite far apart from one another.
These termites primarily eat wood, including wooden homes and other structures, but they also attack trees, crops and plants. In addition to infesting homes, they may also attack wooden boats and other structures. In New Orleans, it is estimated that up to 50 percent of the city’s historic live oaks have been damaged by Formosan termites.
How to Control Formosan Termites
Due to the aggressive nature of the pests, Formosan termite infestations are best handled by professional exterminators. A good exterminator can ensure that the colony is completely eradicated so that the termites do not come back to do more damage. Termites are usually dispatched through the placement of barrier treatments and bait stations, though in more serious cases, fumigation may be recommended.
However, there are several steps that property owners can take to ensure termites are more likely to stay away from their homes. It is a good idea to keep wood piles and lumber away from homes and other buildings. Termites are also attracted to wet wood, so clean up any leaking plumbing or air conditioning condensate as soon as possible.
If you suspect a Formosan termite infestation on your property, don’t wait to contact a qualified exterminator. These termites can do devastating damage very quickly, so the longer you wait, the more danger your home and property will be in.
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