Formosan termites (coptotermes formosanus) are sometimes called “super termites” because of their possibility of extreme damage due to their very large colonies, large territories, infestation of a variety of structures, and rapidity of eating wood. They are considered the most aggressive and economically important termites in the U.S. They are non-native and have been transferred to the United States from Central American and the Far East on ships or shipments of wood. Treatment is very similar to other subterranean termites, but it is more important to act quickly, since they eat wood at such a rapid rate. This page will give you tips on how to get rid of Formosan termites.
Formosan subterranean termites, like other subterranean termites, create nests in soil. However, they can also create above ground nests in structures they are infesting. The combination of an underground and aboveground nest can greatly increase the potential damage of these termites. They create rock-like nests out of a material called “carton” made by the worker termites. Indoors, these nests can be found in damp areas where temperatures are moderate, like plumbing, water heaters, roof leaks, condensation from air conditioning units, poor drainage from gutters and flat roofs, and seepage or rainfall on boats and ships. You will see Formosan termite swarmers near sources of light, like windows, light fixtures, and windowsills. Swarms can contain thousands of this stage of the Formosan termite. Currently Formosan termites are found in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and some areas of California.
While Formosan subterranean termites do not chew through concrete, they have been known to chew through foam insulation boards, thin lead, copper sheeting, plaster, asphalt, and some plastics. They feed on cellulose, like wood, but could eat paper and cardboard as well.
Formosan termites do look slightly different than other subterranean termites. The soldiers have orange-brown oval heads that are much different than subterranean termite soldiers’ rectangular, flat-sided heads. They are also much more aggressive and will bite tools or fingers to defend the nests. If you are unsure what kind of termite you have found, bring samples to your local extension office for proper identification. Here are some signs of an infestation:
Just like other subterranean termites, liquid termite spray chemicals can be applied to soil and into drilled foundations and other barriers along with trenches. This is labor intensive but possible for homeowners to do it themselves. Termite bait is also very effective, and requires no drilling, exposure to chemicals, and the active ingredient is harmless to humans and animals. It is also effective because the baits can be used above ground to attract termites in the above ground nests. Before attempting any treatment yourself, consult guide on how to do a termite treatment yourself.