The natural habitats of Formosan termites are forests and urban areas. These termites usually reside underground where there is high moisture content. Formosan termites use their saliva to construct mounds or nests composed of dirt, wood, plant materials and fecal materials. These organisms may also reside on the surface as long as the temperature and humidity are favorable for their survival and reproduction.
Formosan termites may also be found in shipments of timber, mulch and plants. As they feed on these materials, they rapidly increase in number and eventually infest the whole boat.
In the United States, Formosan termites are considered dangerous pests that cause massive destruction to homes and other properties. Millions of dollars are spent each year on the prevention and treatment of termite infestation and repairs of the damages they leave behind. Formosan termites also have the natural ability to create bigger colonies in a short span of time.
Formosan termites voraciously feed on materials that contain cellulose. These are wood, paper and cardboard. Cellulose is degraded by bacteria and one-celled microorganisms that reside in their digestive systems. Several species of termites have also been observed to feed on foams, copper sheets, plastics and asphalt.
Formosan termites preserve their species by the constant mating of their king and queen. Eggs are produced only after a few days after mating. The king and queen belong to a group called the reproductives. Besides this group, the termitesí colony is also composed of soldiers and workers. These fulfill different social roles and responsibilities.
The reproductives are divided into primary reproductives and secondary reproductives. This group of termites is responsible for populating and repopulating the colony. Soldier termites, on the other hand, guard the colony against natural enemies such as ants. As defense mechanism, these termites secrete a sticky fluid to immobilize their enemies. Finally, workers function in building the nest and in acquiring food for the entire colony. Workers also take care of eggs and feed newly-hatched larvae.
Reproductives develop to become alates or swarmers. Alates form wings and are able to create new colonies in a different area. After swarming, the male and female alates lose their wings and mate. If they are successful in building a new colony, they are automatically regarded as the king and queen of that colony. This reproductive cycle takes around five years. New colonies formed from the original colony require adequate nutrition to be able to survive. This means more damage to properties and greater costs to their eradication and control.
A good knowledge of the feeding, social and reproductive behavior of this type of termites is necessary in developing effective strategies in controlling these organisms that create havoc of significant degree.
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