- 1 Vernacular Names
- 2 Identification
- 3 Behavior
- 4 Habitat and Ecology
- 5 Taxonomy
- 6 Distribution
- 7 Media
- 8 Economic Impact
- 9 More Information
| Formosan Subterranean Termite|
|Coptotermes formosanus shiraki USGov k8204-7.jpg|
| Coptotermes formosanus|
The Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) is an invasive species of termite. It has been transported worldwide from its native range in southern China to Formosa (Taiwan, where it gets its name) and Japan. In the 20th century it became established in South Africa, Hawaii in the continental United States, Central and South America. The Formosan subterranean termite is often nicknamed the super-termite because of its destructive habits. This is because of the large size of its colonies, and the termites' ability to consume wood at a rapid rate. A single colony may contain several million individuals (compared with several hundred thousand termites for other subterranean termite species) that forage up to 300 feet (100 m) in soil. A mature Formosan colony can consume as much as 13 ounces of wood a day (ca. 400 g) and severely damage a structure in as little as three months. Because of its population size and foraging range, the presence of a colony poses serious threats to nearby structures. Once established, Formosan subterranean termites have never been eradicated from an area. Formosan subterranean termites infest a wide variety of structures (including boats and high-rise condominiums) and can damage trees. In the United States, along other species, Coptotermes gestroi, also introduced from south east Asia, they are responsible for tremendous damage to property resulting in large treatment and repair costs. The Formosan subterranean termite acquired its name because it was first described in Taiwan in the early 20th century, but C. formosanus is probably endemic to southern China. This destructive species was apparently transported to Japan prior to the 17th century and to Hawaii in the late 19th century (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 Beach, Florida. Formosan termites are rarely found north of 35° north latitude. They have been reported from eleven states including: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. Their distribution will probably continue to be restricted to southern areas of the United Stat es because the eggs will not hatch below about 20 °C (68 °F).
Insect. This termite causes considerable damage to trees, buildings, telephone poles, and underground electrical and telephone cable lines. In Hawaii, the cost to prevent and/or control infestations and to repair the damage caused by this pest has been estimated at more than $60 million a year.
- Chinese: 台灣乳白蟻 · 家白蟻
- English: Formosan Subterranean Termite · Ground Termites
- French: Termite Du Japon Du Sud
- Japanese: イエシロアリ
- Vietnamese: Mối đất Đài Loan
A large subterranean colony of the Formosan subterranean termite may contain several million termites that forage up to 100 m. Winged forms (alates) are yellowish-brown and 12 to 15 mm long (0.5 to 0.6 inch). There are numerous small hairs on the wings. Soldier heads are oval shape.
C. formosanus is a generalist, colonial, social insect building colonies either above or below ground (Howarth 1985) and produces naphthalene as a protective poison. Termites have a caste system including: a king, queen, workers, soldiers, and reproductives or alates (winged termites). The workers provide the food, soldiers defend the nest, and reproductives breed the colony. The queen of the colony has a life span of approximately 15 years and is capable of producing up to 2,000 eggs per day. The workers and soldiers may live 3–5 years with caste proportions of approximately 360 workers: 40 soldiers (Grace et al. 1996a). A colony is surrounded by an extensive foraging system consisting of tunnels underneath the ground, with a mature colony containing millions of termites (Tulane 2002, ARS 2002). Grace et al. (1995) found older and less vigorous colonies contained workers who had a larger body mass than workers in younger colonies.
The diet of the subterranean termite consists of anything that contains wood fiber (homes, building, live trees), crops, and plants. Live trees include: Oak, Ash, and water-bound Cypress (ARS 2002). Crops include sugarcane (Broughton and Grace 1994). Cabrera et al. (2001) found that "Like many other termites, the Formosan termite feeds on wood and other materials that contain cellulose, such as paper and cardboard. Bacteria and other single-celled organisms live in the termite digestive system and digest cellulose providing nutrition and energy for these termites. Although they feed mostly on wood, they will eat other cellulose-containing materials such as cardboard and paper. However, they are known to chew through foam insulation boards, thin lead and copper sheeting, plaster, asphalt, and some plastics." Morales-Ramos and Rojas (2003) found that "colonies of C. formosanus feeding on pecan, Carya illinoensis (Wangenh.), and red gum, Liquidambar styraciflua L., produced significantly more progeny than colonies feeding on other wood species tested. Progeny of colonies feeding on pecan and American ash, Fraxinus americana L., had significantly greater survival than progeny of colonies feeding on other wood species. Colonies feeding on nutritionally supplemented cellulose based matrix showed similar fitness characteristics as colonies feeding on the best wood treatments. These results indicate that differences observed in colony fitness can be partially explained by nutritional value of the food treatment, raising the possibility that wood from different tree species have different nutritional values to the Formosan subterranean termites. This suggests that feeding preference of C. formosanus is at least partially influenced by the nutritional value of the food source."
Reproduction and lifecycle stages
Su and Scheffrahn (2000) report that, "A single colony of C. formosanus may produce over 70,000 alates. After a brief flight, alates shed their wings. Females immediately search for nesting sites with males following closely behind. When the pair find a moist crevice with wooden materials, they form the royal chamber and lay approximately 15 to 30 eggs. Within two to four weeks, young termites hatched from the eggs. The reproductives nurse the first group of young termites until they reach third instar. One to two months later, the queen lay the second batch eggs which would be eventually nursed by termites from the first egg batch. It may take three to five years before a colony reach substantial number to cause severe damage and produce alates." Cabrera et al. (2001) state that, "After swarming and landing on the ground, the alates break off their wings and search for a mate. Once a mate is found, the male and female search for a crevice in damp ground or wood, hollow out a small chamber, and crawl inside. The pair, now known as the king and queen, mate and within a few days the queen starts laying eggs. The young, known as larvae, hatch from the eggs and are fed by the king and queen. A mature colony contains distinct groups called castes. These castes look different from one another and each has a special duty within the colony. The king and queen C. formosanus are the primary reproductives and are responsible for reproduction. If the queen or king dies or the colony becomes large, secondary reproductives may form and begin reproduction. Soldiers defend the colony against predators and other natural enemies. Workers take care of and feed the larvae, reproductives and soldiers, tend the eggs, build and maintain th e nest, and search for food. Alate nymphs become alates when they are fully grown."
Annual flights of winged forms.A single colony may produce tens of thousands alates. A matured queen may lay 2000 eggs daily.
Eggs - larvae -workers or alate nymph - soldiers, workers or nymph - queen and kings.
Habitat and Ecology
Biome: urban areas
Name Status: Accepted Name.
Last scrutiny: 11-Mar-2005
- Reported here: Australia, Australia:Victoria, China, Sudan, United States.
- Coptotermes formosanus shiraki USGov k8204-7.jpg
- Female Coptotermes formosanus.jpg
- Nest of Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus).jpg
- Termite-Formosan subterranean-worker-Tamil word17.1.jpg
- Termite-Formosan subterranean-soldiers-Tamil word17.2.jpg
Formosan subterranean termite. Coptotermes formosanus Large fontanelle when viewed from above, tear drop-shaped head, combined body and wing length 14-15 mm, and maximum head width 1.5mm; color on head, pronotum, and dorsal abdomen entirely a lighter yellow-brown or orange-brown; USA, Honolulu, Hawaii, 2 May 1995.
Formosan subterranean termite. Coptotermes formosanus C. formosanus soldiers have two pairs of hairs that originate around the fontanelle and the lateral profile of the top of the head just behind the fontanelle does not show a weak bulge. Maximum head width 1.5mm; colour on head a lighter yellow-brown or orange-brown; USA. Honolulu, Hawaii, 2 May 1995.
|-Coptotermes formosanus -(royal cell-),<a href="http://blog.xuite.net/lee2227/blog/6" target="_blank" title="http://blog.xuite.net/lee2227/blog/6" rel="nofollow" dir="ltr" class="yt-uix-redirect-link">http://blog.xuite.net/lee2227/blog/6</a>|
C. formosanus is the most economically serious pest in Hawaii, costing residents $100 million a year (Tulane 2002). Historic structures in Hawaii have been threatened, such as Iolani Palace in Honolulu (Grace et al. 2002). C. formosanus has its greatest impact in North America. Lax and Osbrink (2003) states that, "C. formosanus Shiraki is currently one of the most destructive pests in the USA. It is estimated to cost consumers over US $1 billion annually for preventative and remedial treatment and to repair damage caused by this insect." In New Orleans, 30-50% of the city's 4,000 historic live Oak trees are believed to be infected with total damage costing the city $300 million a year (Tulane 2002). Raloff (2003) states that in North America C. formosanus, "create significantly bigger colonies, and therefore more damage, than do their native U.S. cousins, which reside underground and enter buildings only to forage." Fei and Henderson (2003) state that, "The Formosan subterranean termite, C. formosanus Shiraki is the most destructive, difficult to control and economically important species of termite in the southern Unite d States." Impacts of increased use of pesticides to control the termite population has led to higher costs for homeowners and destructive effects on the environment, including contamination of water supplies caused by runoff (Yates et al. 2000).
- GBIF: TaxonID: 0 TaxonKey: 2369933
- ITIS: 650469
- Namebank ID: 3509721
- SP2000 Accepted Name Code: ITS-650469
- ZipcodeZoo CritterID: 8963
- iA collection of essays for Mr. Yasushi Nawa: written in commemoration of his sixtieth birthday, October 8, 1917 //i Gifu, Japan: [s.n.], 1917.  p. 5.
- iCooperative economic insect report./i Hyattsville, MD. [etc.]Plant Protection and Quarantine Programs Animal and Plant Health Service.  p. 10, p. 10, p. 1087, p. 1131, p. 12, p. 12, p. 12, p. 128, p. 135, p. 150, p. 18, p. 214, p. 222, p. 28, p. [http://www.b
iodiversitylibrary.org/page/32069201 316], p. 355, p. 364, p. 371, p. 395, p. 437, p. 458, p. 471, p. 530, p. 555, p. 563, p. 564, p. 578, p. 592, p. 6, p. 603, p. 604, p. [http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/ page/32183740 66], p. 671, p. 698, p. 7, p. 70, p. 710, p. 713, p. 75, p. 79, p. 9, p. 9, p. 9, p. 904, p. 907, p. 929, p. 967.
- iEntomological news./i [Philadelphia]American Entomological Society, 1925-  p. 87, p. 89.
- iExperiment station record./i Washington: G.P.O., 1889-1946.  p. 167.
- iExtracts from the Bulletin of the Forest Experiment Station, Meguro, Tokyo./i Tokyo, Bureau of Forestry, Dept. of Agriculture and Commerce, 1915.  , .
- iHandbook of protozoology, by Richard Roksabro Kudo...with one hundred and seventy-five illustrations./i Springfield, Ill., C.C. Thomas, 1931.  p. 168, p. 427.
- iList of intercepted plant pests / United States Department of Agriculture, Plant Quarantine and Control Administration./i [Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O.], 1932-  p. 118, p. 15, p. 16, p. 161, p. 17, p. 18, p. 19, p. 19, p. 191, p. 20, p. 22, p. 23, p. 23, p. [http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/32684276 2
7], p. 28, p. 33, p. 34, p. 354, p. 36, p. 37, p. 38, p. 4, p. 4, p. 4, p. 4, p. 40, p. 41, p. 41, p. 43, p. 43, p. 43, p. [http://www.biodiversitylibrary.or g/page/31885687 44], p. 45, p. 45, p. 45, p. 46, p. 46, p. 46, p. 47, p. 48, p. 53, p. 53, p. 54, p. 54, p. 57, p. 58.
- iProceedings of the Entomological Society of Washington./i Washington, etc.: Entomological Society of Washington  p. 155, p. 417, p. 419, p. 813, p. 95.
- iProceedings of the Hawaiian Entomological Society./i Honolulu: Hawaiian Entomological Society  , , , p. 264.
- iProtozoology, by Richard R. Kudo.. With three hundred and thirty-six illustrations./i Springfield, Ill., C.C. Thomas, 1946.  p. 319, p. 326, p. 740.
- iProtozoology, by Richard Roksabro Kudo... with two hundred and ninety-one illustrations./i Springfield, Ill., Thomas[c1939]  p. 286, p. 652.
- iProtozoology./i Springfield, Ill., C. C. Thomas  p. 406, p. 414.
- iScientific Japan, past and present, prepared [by the National Research Council of Japan] in connection with the third Pan-Pacific Science Congress, Tokyo, 1926./i Kyoto[1926?]  p. 117.
- iThe Biological bulletin./i Woods Hole, Mass.: Marine Biological Laboratory,  p. 205, p. 208.
- iThe Hawaiian forester and agriculturist./i Honolulu: Hawaiian Gazette Co., 1904-1933.  , p. 315, p. 316, p. 318, p. 319, p. 351.
- iThe Natural history of Enewetak Atoll / edited by Dennis M. Devaney.. [et al.]; prepared by Office of Scientific and Technical Information, U.S. Department of Energy./i Oak Ridge, Tenn.: U.S. Dept. of Energy, Office of Energy Research, Office of Health and Environmental Research, Ecological Research Division, c1987.  p. 160.
- iThe Philippine journal of science./i 18 1921 Manila.  p. 226, p. 250, p. 256, p. 276, p. 319, p. 320, p. 321, p. 328, p. 333, p. 334, p. 335, p. 336, p. 337, p. 338, p. 339, p. 340, p. [http
- //www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/699567 341], p. 344, p. 347, p. 350, p. 353, p. 361, p. 370, p. 371, p. 372, p. 373, p. 379, p. 381, p. 382, p. 489, p. 491.
- Distribution in the United States
- Formosan subterranean termite on the UF / IFAS Featured Creatures Web site
- Formosan Termite Fact Sheet from the National Pest Management Association with information on habits, habitat and prevention
- Earlham College Senior Seminar 2002
- Invasive Species Database
- Species Profile- Formosan Subterranean Termite (Coptotermes formosanus), National Invasive Species Information Center, United States National Agricultural Library. Lists general information and resources for Formosan Subterranean Termite.
- Bisby, F.A., Y.R. Roskov, M.A. Ruggiero, T.M. Orrell, L.E. Paglinawan, P.W. Brewer, N. Bailly, J. van Hertum, eds (2007). Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2007 Annual Checklist. Species 2000: Reading, U.K.
- Brands, S.J. (comp.) 1989-present. The Taxonomicon. Universal Taxonomic Services, Zwaag, The Netherlands. Accessed January 10, 2012.
- ISSG Global Invasive Species Database (http://www.issg.org/database)
- National Invasive Species Information Center, National Agricultural Library, United States Department of Agriculture. Web Site. Accessed May 3, 2008.
- Ruggiero M., Gordon D., Bailly N., Kirk P., Nicolson D. (2011). The Catalogue of Life Taxonomic Classification, Edition 2, Part A. In: Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2011 Annual Checklist (Bisby F.A., Roskov Y.R., Orrell T.M., Nicolson D., Paglinawan L.E., Bailly N., Kirk P.M., Bourgoin T., Baillargeon G., Ouvrard D., eds). DVD; Species 2000: Reading, UK.
- URL: http://ZipcodeZoo.com/index.php/Coptotermes_formosanus
- Primary Sources: Global Biodiversity Information Facility · the Taxonomicon · The Catalogue of Life, 3rd January 2011 · Wikimedia Commons · Wikipedia · Wikispecies · ZipcodeZoo.com.