Story 2015-03-27 5W95 Hybrid invasive super termites menacing Florida

Hybrid invasive super termites menacing Florida

in environment on (#5W95)
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.
Reply 12 comments

Oh well. (Score: 1)

by on 2015-03-27 15:11 (#5X1Z)

Any chance Florida will be underwater before the termites make it off the peninsula? I don;t think underwater termites are an issue in most cases.

Re: Oh well. (Score: 2, Interesting)

by on 2015-03-27 16:43 (#5X98)

Alternatively, Termites are a great source of sustainable protein that was utilized by our ancestors for thousands of years. This fast growing breed might be perfect for domesticating.

Re: Oh well. (Score: 1)

by on 2015-03-27 17:24 (#5XCC)

In a highly monitored, locked, metal / concrete farming facility, yes. :) I would not be opposed to eating them either. However, they sound like they would be quite the pest if accidentally spread across country alive.

Re: Oh well. (Score: 1)

by on 2015-03-27 18:35 (#5XGG)

Yes, of course. Termites are terrible. I dealt with just the normal kind and it took a lot of effort to keep them from destroying the few wooden window frames in a concrete house. And yes, I did try eating a few. Not the tastiest to my western palate. Maybe they need to be processed into a more conventional looking food product or maybe even just cooked and served with ketchup.

Re: Oh well. (Score: 1)

by on 2015-03-28 17:26 (#5Z3Q)

Chocolate covered perhaps? :)

Re: Oh well. (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-03-29 00:57 (#5ZVD)

You are thinking of grasshoppers

Florida doesn't care. California though... (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-03-28 07:48 (#5YCQ)

Nearly all homes in Florida are concrete block. Of the remainder, all the newer ones are **poured** concrete. Yeah, you can slam a big truck into the house and it won't matter. Maybe 1% is wood frame.

California is all wood frame. It keeps the firefighters employed I suppose. California will love these new termites.

Re: Florida doesn't care. California though... (Score: 1)

by on 2015-03-28 08:11 (#5YDT)

Concrete block structures don't fare well during earthquakes... They require extensive retrofitting and typically need a massive steel support structure before they are allowed to be re-occupied. Wood structures survive far better, without nearly so much extra effort. HurriQuake nails are one very inexpensive upgrade that can help wood structures, substantially.

With California's many extensive wooded forests, most of the firefighters will remain employed, no matter what materials homes are built from.

Re: Florida doesn't care. California though... (Score: 1)

by on 2015-03-29 04:28 (#600P)

A better alternative in termite country is the metal-framed, metal-covered house, which is both flexible like wood, and rather more fireproof as well as pestproof. Unfortunately as of the last time I checked, metal houses were not yet insurable!

In the SoCal desert where I lived for 28 years, you don't need super-termites; the native ground termites will eat everything just fine. Any cellulose (including lawn clippings, cardboard, dead weeds, and flour) they can get to will be eaten. Lay a 2x4 on the ground and it will be infested within a week (literally). Termite control is a way of life.

Re: Florida doesn't care. California though... (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-03-29 05:49 (#6033)

What kills them then? Sulphur?

Re: Florida doesn't care. California though... (Score: 2, Insightful)

by on 2015-03-30 02:19 (#61F7)

Termites are fairly sensitive to a variety of pesticides (also to cold and dehydration). The problem is that the core of the nest, along with the queen, is usually well underground, therefore safe from the usual pesticides.

The solution is to treat the area with "Termidor" which they'll take home to mama, and eventually this kills the entire nest.

But the problem with the desert is that there are always more termites, so killing 'em off one colony at a time is an exercise in futility.

Re: Florida doesn't care. California though... (Score: 0)

by Anonymous Coward on 2015-03-31 18:56 (#65MH)

You can live in a concrete dome.

It'll tolerate earthquakes, tornados, and run-away 18-wheelers.