Hybrid invasive super termites menacing Florida

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Scientists at the University of Florida have confirmed the Asian and Formosan subterranean termites — both formidable non-native species — are mating in south Florida. The offspring of these species thrive by combining the strongest qualities of their parents. The two species are considered particularly damaging and difficult to control, since they travel underground and burrow up through buildings. What sort of termite do they produce? The bad news is that based on lab results, the hybrid colonies appear to grow faster than those of either species that produced them.

“The combination of genes between the two species results in highly vigorous hybridized colonies that can develop twice as fast as the two parental species,” said Thomas Chouvenc, research assistant at the University of Florida’s Subterranean Termite laboratory. “The establishment of hybrid termite populations is expected to result in dramatically increased damage to structures in the near future.”

The annual cost of termite damage and control measures in the U.S. is estimated at $5 billion.
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