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An Invasive Drywood Termite Species May Make Its Way Into The USA

January 22nd, 2019

Most drywood termite species come from the Cryptotermes genus. This particular genus has been studied extensively and the drywood termites of this genus are the most economically significant of all drywood termites, as they are known for causing extensive damages to both crops and structures. So far, experts have documented a total of 69 Cryptotermes drywood termite species, 33 of which can be found in Central and South America, as well as in the Caribbean islands. This particular region is commonly referred to as the “neotropics”, and most of the invasive drywood termite species in America originated from this region. Considering the close geographical proximity between the US and the neotropics, US border officials along the Gulf Coast are constantly on the lookout for non-native drywood termites that may inadvertently arrive in the country within shipments from the neotropics. Although Cryptotermes termites have been studied extensively, many neotropical countries, notably Colombia, have failed to provide detailed reports concerning their native termite species. Obviously, this is of concern to US officials who are struggling to track the termites that may be accidentally transported into the country from the neotropics.

One particular Cryptotermes species, C. mangoldi, has been known to exist in the Dominican Republic for several years. However, US scientists recently learned that this termite species originated from Colombia, which means that the C. mangoldi species is slowly making its way closer to the US. If the C. mangoldi species makes its way onto the southern coast of Florida, it would certainly not be the first non-native neotropical termite to do so, as the C. brevis species arrived in Florida several years ago after hopping from its country of origin, Chile, to the Caribbean islands and finally onto the mainland US. The C. brevis species, which is more commonly known as the powderpost termite, has caused extensive damage to wooden furniture items and even structural wood in the southeast US. Researchers believe that the C. mangoldi species could inflict a similar level of destruction if it were to establish an invasive habitat in the US.

Do you think that some invasive termite species that originated from the neotropics already exist in the US, but have not yet been documented in the country?

 

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