The termite species that is officially known as Coptotermes gestroi is native to Asia, but for the past century, this species has gradually spread to various regions in the Pacific. In 1923, this species, better known as the Asian subterranean termite, was found in Brazil, but it was not until 1996 that a specimen was collected in southern Florida. Luckily, this termite species is particularly reliant on tropical humidity in order to thrive. This explains why the Asian subterranean termite had not expanded northward in Florida until 2005 when a few isolated infestations were found in Ft. Lauderdale. However, entomologists have recently learned that the invasive termites are now abundant in Florida’s northern region, and they are continuing to migrate even farther north near Georgia. Not only are these highly destructive invasive termites devastating to timber-framed structures, but they are also the only termites that can kill healthy trees. All other termite species merely damage the dead outer wood of trees. Since the invasive termites arrived in Ft. Lauderdale back in 2005, they have gone onto infest an estimated 50 percent of the county’s pine trees. Unfortunately, experts believe that even the most advanced and reliable termite control methods are likely insufficient for preventing the further spread of these highly destructive termite pests.
According to Dr. Thomas Chouvenc, an entomologist with the University of Florida’s Research and Education Center, Asian subterranean termites can easily take entire houses down in a relatively short amount of time, and they are now abundant in northern Florida. Another invasive termite, the Formosan subterranean termite, has long been a problem in every region of Florida, but experts and victims of Asian subterranean termites in Ft. Lauderdale and Riviera Beach have never dealt with a more damaging and a harder to control termite species. Also, most termite species in America don’t infest trees at all, and even the invasive Formosan termite only consumes dead wood from living trees, which does not result in tree death. Asian subterranean termites, however, do kill healthy living trees. A new advanced baiting system has been uniquely developed to control Asian subterranean termite populations in Florida, but since their colonies grow and spread more rapidly than other termite species, entomologists have little hope for the baiting system’s success. The Asian subterranean termite first arrived in south Florida by hitching rides on yachts arriving from the Caribbean islands.
Do you believe that Asian subterranean termites will push their way into Georgia?