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Asian Termites vs. Formosan Termites in Florida

Asian termites have become a major problem in South Florida. They are a new species native to South East Asia that most likely arrived via shipping ports in the early 1990’s. Asian termites are very similar to Formosan termites but are better suited for tropical climates. They have a long-life cycle, ranging from five to eight years.

Since 2000, Formosan and Asian termites have grown significantly in Florida. From 2000 to 2010 there has been a 20% increase in Asian and Formosan termites, and from 2010 to 2015 50% increase. At this rate, by 2040, all of Florida will have Asian and Formosan termite infestations. Asian termites swarm from early February through April, while Formosans swarm a little later in the year. Both species of termites swarm mostly at dusk, and to a spectator, these swarms appear as very big clouds of termites in the sky.

The physical difference between Asian and Formosan termites can only be determined under a microscope. If you compare the soldier termites, the Formosan soldier has two hairs on the fontanelle (on frontal part of head) whereas the Asian termite has only one.

These pests have implications for Florida termite control. In addition to wreaking havoc on homes, the Formosan termite in northern Florida and the Asian termite in southern Florida have become major problem to pine trees, damaging under the bark to the outer layers of the tree. Interestingly enough, termites do not hollow out the slash pines that we have so prevalently in Florida like they do other tree species. To treat termites in slash pine trees, an above ground bait system is needed. Oaks and other trees that are hollowed out at the center can be treated by filling the void of the tree with a termiticide foam. A liquid termiticide and a baiting system will have to be utilized together to keep the tree population safe in Florida, and to keep these termite invaders at bay.

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