Two of the most destructive termite species in the world — responsible for much of the $40 billion in economic loss caused by termites annually — are now swarming simultaneously in South Florida, creating hybrid colonies that grow quickly and have the potential to migrate to other states.
Florida entomologists has documented that the Asian and Formosan subterranean termites simultaneously produce hundreds of thousands of alates, or winged males and females. Both species have evolved separately for thousands of years, but in South Florida, they now have the opportunity to meet, mate and start new hybrid colonies.
Both the Asian and Formosan species already have spread to many areas of the world. The Formosan subterranean termite, which originated in China, is now established throughout the southeastern United States. The Asian subterranean termite, a tropical species originating in Southeast Asia, has spread to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands, making it potentially the most invasive termite in the world.