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Formosan Termite

The genus Coptotermes contains the largest number of termite pests (28 species) among the >2,800 termite species worldwide, and the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus, is the most widely distributed and most economically important. The Formosan subterranean termite (FST) acquired its name because it was first described in Taiwan in the early 1900s, but Coptotermes formosanus is probably endemic to southern China. This destructive species was apparently transported to Japan prior to the 1600s and to Hawaii in the late 1800s (Su and Tamashiro 1987). By the 1950s, it was reported in South Africa and Sri Lanka. During the 1960s it was found in Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. In 1980, a well-established colony was thriving in a condominium in Hallandale, Florida. A single colony of FST may contain several million termites (versus several hundred thousand termites for native subterranean termite species) that forage up to 300 ft in soil (Figure 1). Because of its population size and foraging range, the presence of FST colonies pose serious threats to nearby structures. Once established, FST has never been eradicated from an area.