What is that new termite in Florida that also eats live trees?

Monday, April 26, 2021

It’s been tagged as the “Asian termite” because they originated in Southeast Asia, but a proper taxonomic designation is "Captotermes gestroi." This new pest in Florida poses a double threat: they consume the wood structure of buildings just like other termites, but also attack live trees. And, because Asians work from the core of the trunk outward, weakening it, the damage is not visible until a storm topples an otherwise healthy-looking tree. 

   Structural damage of homes from Asian subterranean termites can become severe in a short time, and the Asian's voracious consumption of cellulose is comparable to their famous cousin, the Formosan termite. They also look similar to Formosans and require examination under a magnifying glass by a pest professional to confirm identification.

    Although in the news and on the radar of pest control companies lately, they were first discovered in a church in Miami back in 1996 and have been slowly spreading aross South Florida and gaining notoriety over the years. Luckily for those of us in the upper part of the state, the Asian termite’s northward march will probably end around Palm Beach Gardens because they are a tropical species.

   How fast can they munch your house to ruin? Pest control operators we met at a recent state conference compared them to the little demons in this old Popeye cartoon “Insect To Injury."


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To learn more about termites, see these other blog posts:

Should I be worried about termites if my neighbor's house is being tented?

Is the WDO (termite) inspector allowed to poke holes in my wood siding and trim? 

Do carpenter ants cause structural damage to houses in Florida?

How long before closing can you have a WDO (termite) inspection done?

How long does Bora-Care® last? 

 Why is it a mistake to store lumber in the crawl space under a house?

Does the presence of carpenter ants in a house indicate that there are probably also termites? 

How do termites infest a house and remain hidden while doing major damage?

Are homes in Florida required to have termite protection? 

If termite damage appears to be old, does that mean that termites may no longer be present?

How do I know if my WDO/termite report is "clear"? 

When do termites swarm in Florida?

Does a recent termite company inspection sticker mean there are no termites? 

Can a mobile/manufactured home get termites?

Do I have to tent the house if I have termites? 

What is the difference between a subterranean termite and a drywood termite?

What are the green plastic discs in the ground around the house? 

What is a termite shield?

How do termites get into a concrete block house? 

Do termites eat concrete?

What is a clean WDO?  

What do termites eat?

How do I treat wood rot  that's listed in my termite-WDO report? 

Do I really need a termite-WDO inspection? 

What's causing those holes in the fascia?

Does wood chip mulch in the yard attract termites?

I think I have termites. What does a termite look like?

I'm buying a concrete block house. Do I still need a termite inspection? 

• I saw a little termite damage on the baseboard. Should I be concerned?

   Visit our TERMITES, WOOD ROT AND PESTS page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

Photo: Rudolf H. Scheffrahn, University of Florida


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