There exists around three thousand documented termite species inhabiting the world today, and most of these species exist in the tropical regions of South America, Africa and Asia. Surprisingly, a very small percentage of these species are damaging to structures, but unfortunately, the relatively small amount of termites that dwell in the temperate United States are damaging to manmade structures. There exists around 45 documented termite species in the United States, and some of these species live in habitats that extend into Canada, specifically Toronto and the southern regions of British Columbia. While there exists several drywood and dampwood termite species in the US, the most economically significant category of termites are subterranean termites. There are a few different genuses of subterranean termite in the world, but the most abundant genus in the US is the Reticulitermes genus. Termite species belonging to this genus can be found in every US state with the exception of Alaska.
The most widespread species of Reticulitermes termite in the US is, without a doubt, Reticulitermes flavipes, or the eastern subterranean termite, as it is more commonly known. This species, as its name suggests, dwells within the entire eastern half of the US, as well as in many regions west of the Mississippi River. Unlike the notoriously destructive Formosan subterranean termite, the eastern subterranean termite is native to the US, which explains its adaptability to North American landscapes. The western counterpart of this species, Reticulitermes hesperus (the western subterranean termite), can be found along the Pacific Coast from southern California to British Columbia. Another Reticulitermes species that dwells within the western half of the US is Reticulitermes tibialis, and it can be found within mountainous valleys in several states west of the Mississippi. And finally there are the less widespread Reticulitermes species known as Reticulitermes virginicus, and Reticulitermes hageni, which can be found only within the state of Florida. Florida is also home to the greatest number of both native and invasive termite species when taking all US states into account. Despite the highly destructive nature of invasive termite species in the US, native Reticulitermes species inflict the greatest amount of structural damages in the US. If you discover termites within your home, they are most likely Reticulitermes flavipes (eastern subterranean termites).
Do you think that one or more invasive termite species will become more destructive than native species in the US in the future as a result of climate change?