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Should Residents Of Georgia Be Worried About The Invasive Formosan Subterranean Termite?

March 18th, 2019

Formosan Subterranean termites were accidentally transported to the United States during the 1960s or possibly as early as the 1940s. Formosan termite colonies were first discovered in the US near a shipping port in southeast Texas, and since then, these most destructive of wood-eating pests have managed to establish a seemingly permanent habitat that spans several states along the Gulf Coast. Formosan subterranean termites were first discovered in Georgia during the 1990s where they were infesting railroad ties that had been shipped to the state from New Orleans. Since then, the invasive termites have been found infesting other railroad ties that were used to build retaining walls in the Georgia landscape. According to two University of Georgia entomologists, Formosan subterranean termite infestations in Georgia are largely limited to railroad ties, and trees, particularly dead trees. These termites rarely infest structures located in urban and suburban areas of the state. Despite this, entomologists, pest control professionals and government officials in Georgia urge residents to report Formosan subterranean termite sightings, especially their swarms.

Considering that Formosan subterranean termite colonies are often comprised of millions of workers, soldiers and reproductives, they destroy wood at a rapid pace. This is why it is important that residents are able to discern Formosan subterranean termites from native subterranean termites. For one thing, Formosan subterranean termite swarmers, also known as alates, have a much larger body-size than native termites. Formosan subterranean termites are around three fourths of an inch to a full inch longer in body length than native termite species. The native eastern subterranean termite alate, which is the most abundant and damaging termite species in Georgia and the rest of the US, is notable for its black body color, but alates of the Formosan species have a caramel or light brown colored body. Upon finding Formosan termites, residents are encouraged to capture a few in order to send a preserved specimen to the University of Georgia Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Department.

Do you believe that you have spotted a Formosan subterranean termite swarm in the past?

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