Photo by William Cho
Once established in an area it is very difficult to eradicate them because of several reasons. The size of their colonies is much larger than other termite species. They can become large enough to have over a million termites in one single colony. They are also able to forage over very large distances, much further than the normal termites.
They need to consume large amounts of wood and so any houses in the local area are at a much greater risk for infestation because of their consumption demands. Fortunately, their main weakness that has stopped them spreading further around the globe is that they don’t like the cold and their eggs will not hatch in areas that are not sufficiently warm.
When identifying Formosan termites you’ll find that they have several features that are different from other types of termites. They tend to be more orange/brown in color and their heads tend to be more oval shaped. Their size is normally 1/2 inch to 3/5 inch in length. They also tend to have more soldiers than other types of termites so look out for this when attempting identification.
Because they wreck so much destruction upon humans they are one of the most financially damaging to home owners. To fight them, pest control companies have had to create stronger types of termite chemicals. The use of such chemicals has then resulted in more environmental damage.
The history of the Formosan termite has believed to have followed this story. Native to the southern China and the island of Formosa (modern day Taiwan) they are believed to have been accidentally transported by humans to Japan in the 1600s. From Japan, they are likely to have reached Hawaii during the end of the 1800s. These transportations were likely due to the wooden ships that were being used during this period as well as the transportation of goods. Since then, during the 1950s and 60s the termite invaded South Africa, Sri Lanka and the mainland United States and by 1980 had reached all the way from the west coast to the east coast in Florida.