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How Did The Highly Destructive And Invasive Formosan Subterranean Termite Become Established In Georgia

September 5th, 2019

There is no way to know for sure how non-native Formosan subterranean termites (FST) arrived in the United States, but most experts believe that the termite pests were first brought into Texas on military vessels that departed from southeast Asia shortly after World War II ended in 1945. However, Formosan subterranean termites were not documented as inhabiting the US until an infestation was found on a floating dry dock in the Houston Channel in 1956.

FST colonies first appeared in parts of Georgia during the early 1990s, and by 1993, two FST infestations were found in Atlanta for the first time. By 1997, a total of seven FST infestations had been documented in Atlanta, and by 2004, the invasive termites had established multiple colonies in 15 different cities and towns in the state. Since then FST have spread to several other locations throughout the state.

Although Formosan subterranean termites are notorious for their ability to spread to new regions rapidly, the invasive termites rarely infest structures in Georgia due to largely successful areawide containment efforts. However, infestations still occur occasionally within residential homes, but most of these infestations originate from the commercial movement of wooden items that contain FST specimens.

Researchers are nearly certain that FST first arrived in Georgia within infested railroad crossties that had been imported into the state from FST-heavy New Orleans sometime during 1989 or 1990. These crossties were imported into Georgia so that they could be sold to residents as landscaping timber. During the early 2000s, researchers in Georgia found that all seven of the first documented FST infestations within Atlanta homes occurred due to the interstate movement of infested railroad crossties.

All seven owners of the infested Atlanta homes purchased these infested railroad ties before placing them near their home for landscaping purposes. This clearly indicates that the invasive termites arrived in Georgia on infested railroad ties that had been imported into the state from areas of Louisiana where FST colonies were abundant.

Have you or anyone you know ever experienced issues with Formosan subterranean termites?

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