Meet the Formosan termite: one nasty pest

Aug 27, 2018, 09:26 AM by Fred Speer

Clark, your neighborly pest control expert, has shared some valuable information about two of the most commonly encountered termite species – subterranean and drywood termites. There is another member of the termite “family” that Clark wants to bring you up to speed on –Formosan termites.

“Aren’t termites all the same?” you may ask. When it comes to Formosan termites, the answer is a definitive no. Comparing Formosan termites to their subterranean cousins is like saying a stick of dynamite is akin to a firecracker.

Formosan termites are an extremely important and damaging pest. They are native to China and have been introduced mainly in and around port cities in the United States via the wood of shipping containers and pallets or in plant materials.

How destructive are they? A large colony of Formosan termites – colonies can have more than a million hungry members – can cause significant structural damage within six months, and can nearly destroy an unprotected home within two years.

To give you some perspective on their voracious appetites, an average-sized colony consumes 14 linear feet of pinewood studs in one year.

In California, Formosan termites were first detected in the early 1990s in La Mesa, a San Diego suburb. Researchers with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources monitored the colony and believed that efforts to eradicate it were successful.

That may not be the case, however, as residents in the areas recently received notices from San Diego County officials that the Formosan termite threat may still be present.

Industrious Formosan termites will out-hustle other subterranean termites when it comes to tunnel building, and will forage aggressively for food – untreated wood posts, fencing, decking, floor and ceiling joists – in wall and ceiling voids inside homes and in the ground outside. They will travel up to 400 feet over an area more than an acre in size in search of food.

Formosan termites thrive on damp conditions, and the carton-like construction of their nests allows them to establish these nests above ground and survive without maintaining contact with the soil.

While the Formosan termite threat is currently limited to the La Mesa area, Clark reminds homeowners to be vigilant in keeping an eye out for signs of subterranean termite activity,  which include:

  • Discarded wings near windowsills and doors, often the only outwardly visible sign of an infestation
  • Mud tubes found near the home’s foundation, which provide moisture while the termites travel between colony and food source.
  • Wood that is soft and sounds hollow when tapped, or dark and blistered pieces of wood
  • Uneven or bubbling paint, often a sign of moisture buildup, can mean one of two things: water damage or termites
  • Light, wood-colored droppings that resemble sawdust inside or outside the home

With years of experience dealing with termites, Clark recommends a thorough termite inspection by one of Clark Pest Control’s highly trained inspectors.

Following the inspection, Clark’s inspectors will analyze the findings and assess whether treatment is needed, and what kind of treatment is best suited for your home.

If you are having a problem with drywood termites in your home, call or text California’s trusted, friendly termite expert, Clark, at (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or send an email to

Until next time, the pest management professionals at Clark Pest Control thank you for helping to keep unwanted pests out of your home.



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