Greenhouse Termite & Pest Control discovers Asian subterranean termites migrating north

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May 28, 2024

Brenton Cloud, left, and Josh Johnson examine the termite samples that were collected from a Temple Terrace, Fla., home. IMAGE: GREENHOUSE TERMITE & PEST CONTROL

Brenton Cloud, left, and Josh Johnson examine the termite samples that were collected from a Temple Terrace, Fla., home. IMAGE: GREENHOUSE TERMITE & PEST CONTROL

On May 3, Brenton Cloud, the owner of Greenhouse Termite and Pest Control, was training a new technician, Pedro Rivera, when the pair encountered a peculiar termite situation that initially baffled them.

During a routine inspection and treatment at a home in Temple Terrace, Fla., the homeowner reported finding dead termites in her bathroom. However, upon inspection, there were no discarded wings around the house, unlike typical subterranean termite swarms. This unusual circumstance captured Cloud’s attention, as wings are usually a clear sign of subterranean termite activity. Cloud theorized that the termites were swarming outside, entering through vents, and shedding their wings before infiltrating the bathroom and other neighboring homes.

These termites, larger and lighter in color compared to the Western drywood termite (Kalotermes approximates), posed a challenge for identification.

“This made them difficult to identify, but I knew it had to be a subterranean termite of some sort,” Cloud recalls.

PHOTO: DR. RUDOLF SCHEFFRAHN

Asian subterranean termites (Coptotermes gestroi). PHOTO: DR. RUDOLF SCHEFFRAHN

Determined to unravel the mystery, Cloud saved some of the dead termites and consulted Josh Johnson, Control Solutions Inc.’s Florida territory sales manager.  Using a microscope, on May 23, they positively identified the pests as Asian subterranean termites (Coptotermes gestroi) , marks the arrival of a new invasive species in the Tampa metropolitan area — signaling a significant impact on local homeowners.

Back in March, the University of Florida had confirmed these termites had been reported in South Tampa, a new northern point for the species. Now, they’re 14 miles further north.

Asian subterranean termites present unusual challenges for pest management professionals used to treating, preventing and inspecting for Eastern subterrean or drywood termite species. Unlike other pests, they prefer living in soil and infesting homes from the ground up. These termites have larger colonies than other subterranean termites, and they are voracious eaters, consuming all kinds of wood, including live trees.

 

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About the Author

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Cassie Arriel is the Marketing Coordinator at Greenhouse Termite and Pest Control.

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