South Florida is one of only three places in the world where you can find both Formosan and Asian termites—considered to be the two most destructive termite species. It was previously observed that the swarming season of Asian termites occurs before Formosan termites, preventing interaction.1 Recently, perhaps as a result of climate changes, the swarming seasons overlapped, and a new “super termite” was created.2
Rapid Colony Growth
The new hybridization has scientists concerned. Although there haven’t been any documented cases of hybrid colonies existing in the wild, there are colonies being observed at the University of Florida. Researchers have noted that hybrid colonies appear to be quite vigorous, growing at almost twice the rate of either parent species. They have also witnessed that Asian termite males actually prefer to mate with Formosan termite females, not females from their own species, increasing the chance of hybrid colony formation.2
Substantial Threat to Homeowners
While many hybrid species are sterile (e.g., the mule, a horse-donkey hybrid,) it is not yet known if offspring from a Formosan-Asian termite pair are capable of reproducing. It typically takes five to eight years for a colony to produce the winged adults that leave the nest to mate.3
However, even if the resulting offspring can't start new colonies, the damage done over the 20-year lifespan of a colony is a substantial threat to homeowners, especially in light of the increased colony-growth rate.4 As the study published by the University of Florida researchers summarizes, “a kick from a mule is as good as a kick from a donkey.5”
Protect Your Home
Researchers expect the establishment of hybrid termite colonies to dramatically increase the amount of termite damage in the affected areas.4 Matthew Messenger, an entomologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, reports that hybrid termite colonies should respond to treatment like the parent colonies.3 The Sentricon® System is an effective means of eliminating Formosan and Asian termite colonies6 and is expected to eliminate "super" termite colonies, too.
Find a Certified Sentricon Specialist™ in your area to learn more about how Sentricon can protect your home from threats posed by termites—even the "super" ones.
1T. Chouvenc, E. H.-Y. (2015, 03 25). Hybridization of two termite invaders. Retrieved 04 28, 2015, from YouTube (University of Florida): https://youtu.be/qAsDs0cHX84
2L. Geggel. (2015, 03 31). ‘Super’ termite hybrid may wreak havoc on Florida. Retrieved 04 29, 2015, from Fox News: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2015/03/31/super-termite-hybrid-may-wreak-havoc-on-florida/
3Kay, A. P. (2015, 03 25). Researchers find 2 exotic termite species mating in Florida, raising concerns about new hybrid. Retrieved 03 29, 2015, from USNews.com: http://www.usnews.com/news/science/news/articles/2015/03/25/2-exotic-termites-find-love-in-florida-worrying-researchers
4B. Buck, U. o. (2015, 03 25). Two most destructive termite species forming superswarms in South Florida, UF study finds. Retrieved 04/29/2015 from University of Florida: http://news.ufl.edu/archive/2015/03/two-most-destructive-termite-species-forming-superswarms-in-south-florida-uf-study-finds.html
5Chouvenc, T., E. Helmick & N.-Y. Su. (2015, 03 25) b. Hybridization of Two Major Termite Invaders as a Consequence of Human Activity. Retrieved 04 29, 2015, from PLOS ONE: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0120745
6Woods, C. (2005, 04 08). Double Trouble: UF/IFAS Researchers Find Another Termite In South Florida As Destructive As Formosan “Super Termite”. Retrieved 04/30/2015 from University of Florida: http://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2005/04/double-trouble-ufifas-researchers-find-another-termite-in-south-florida-as-destructive-as-formosan-super-termite/