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Cousin of Asian super termite invades Florida

Another highly destructive termite -- a close relative of the Formosan "super termite" that's gnawing its way across many Southern states -- has become established in South Florida, according to University of Florida researchers.

"The Asian subterranean termite, a major pest in tropical areas such as Brazil and the West Indies, was not considered to be a serious threat to Florida until now," said Nan-Yao Su, a professor of entomology with UF's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, or UF/IFAS. "I thought it could not survive north of the tropics, and I am puzzled by its rapid spread in South Florida."

The pest (Coptotermes gestroi) was found in Key West and Miami a few years ago, and now UF researchers have discovered a well-established population in Riviera Beach, more than 70 miles north of Miami. The researchers say they're not sure how much farther north the tropical species can move and survive.

"Four buildings in a one-square-mile area of Riviera Beach are infested with the termite, and we believe there may be more infestations in the area," Su said. "We are asking those who think they have seen this termite to contact us at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center."

Su is working with Rudolph Scheffrahn, a professor of entomology at the center, and Brian Cabrera, an assistant professor of entomology, to track and stop the invasive pest.

Su said South Florida is the only place on Earth where the new Asian termite and the Formosan termite (C. formosanus) share the same territory. The new termite is considered to be the most destructive pest in many countries of the tropics -- areas between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

To identify possible infestations of the pest, Su said residents should look for winged termites flying around lights at dusk and in the evening. The head and dorsal surface of the body are dark brown in contrast to its yellow-brown underside, thereby giving the flying i
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Source:University of Florida


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