How Did The Non-Native West Indian Drywood Termite Species Spread Into Georgia?

June 6, 2019 | Posted In: Georgia Pest & Termite Control

The eastern subterranean termite is responsible for most of the structural damages inflicted by termites in the state of Georgia. Two other subterranean termite species, R. virginicus and R. hageni, follow the eastern subterranean termite in terms of total annual property damage resulting from termite attacks in the state. Both of these species are also native to the southeast United States, but two non-native termite species have managed to establish a permanent habitat within the state. One of these species, the Formosan subterranean termite, is well known to most homeowners in the southeast US, as this species is considered the most destructive termite species in the world. Luckily, pest controllers have managed to limit the spread of Formosan subterranean termites in Georgia. The other non-native termite species in the state is a drywood species that was first documented in Georgia a few decades ago. This species is commonly known as the west Indian drywood termite, or the west Indian powderpost termite. This species feeds only on structural wood sources rather than natural wood sources, and because of this, the origin of the west Indian drywood termite species cannot be determined by researchers. The manner in which this species invaded Georgia is also largely a mystery.

The west Indian drywood termite was discovered in America for the first time several decades ago in the south of Florida. This species invaded Florida from the Caribbean islands where it is widespread. Sometime later, several west Indian drywood termite colonies were found on Georgia’s coast and nearby islands. Today, the distribution of this invasive species is disputed, but west Indian drywood termite specimens have been collected from infested homes in southern Georgia. This species is the most destructive drywood termite species in the world. To illustrate the destructive potential of the west Indian drywood termite it should be mentioned that one single wooden door taken from a house infested with these termites turned up a whopping 20 colonies. Before the west Indian drywood termite species became established in Georgia, the I. snyderi and K. approximatus species were the only drywood termites that had been documented in the state.

Do you think that the west Indian drywood termite species has established a statewide habitat?