Formosan Termite – Profile and Information

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The Formosan termite, scientifically called the Coptotermes formosanus is an intrusive variety of termite, that has been transported international from its aboriginal settlement in southern China to Formosa in Taiwan, and Japan.

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Around the 20th century, it got to the Continental part of the United States, Hawaii, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. Formosan Termites are similar most subterranean termites in respects to their appearance. They have three caste – Alates, also called Swarmers, soldiers, and workers.

Nonetheless, the Formosan Termite alate has a yellowish-brown body and is usually around 5 to 6 inches length. The Formosan termite is commonly referred to as the super-termite because of its destructive patterns, which are due to the large size of its colonies and its ability to destroy and consume wood at a fast rate.

A single colony can contain over a million termite compared to the paltry hundred thousand termites that other subterranean termite’s colony can contain. A developed Formosan termite colony can eat over 13 ounces of wood a day and can cause damage to a structure in as little as three months, severely.

Because of the sheer size and foraging range, which can be over 300ft, the presence of a colony poses considerable threats to closeby structures. As once established, Formosan termites can never be exterminated from an area.

Formosan termites can plague a wide assortment of fabrics and can also damage trees. In the US, with another species, Coptotermes gestroi, originally from Southeast Asia, they are responsible for enormous damage to property, which results in extensive treatment and repair costs.

The Formosan termite received its name because it was first described in Formosa, Taiwan in the 20th century.

However, endemic to Southern China and Taiwan, this destructive species was transported to Japan at the start of 17th century and Hawaii in end of the 19th century, by the 1950s, it was recorded in South Africa, and in the l 1960s, it was found in South Carolina, Texas, and Louisiana. in 1980 well functioning colony was found thriving in a house in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

The soldiers have curved mandibles and whit bodies. A distinctive feature of theirs is that they secrete a milky white substance from their head when they attack, and their wings are all covered up in hairs.

The Formosan termite is generally colonial and social insect who building colonies either underground or above ground. They have a caste system, which includes a Queen, King, Alates, soldiers, and workers.


The soldiers defend the nest, workers provide the food, and reproductives spawn the colony. The queen has a lifespan of about 15 years and can lay up to 2,000 eggs daily. The workers and soldiers can live around 3 to 5 years.

A colony is covered by an extensive foraging system consisting of tunnels underneath the ground, Older and less viable colonies comprise workers that have a larger body mass than workers in younger colonies.

Scientific classification

  • Scientific name: Coptotermes formosanus
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Blattodea
  • Family: Rhinotermitidae
  • Genus: Coptotermes
  • Species: C. formosanus


In the spring and summer months, the Formosan termites swarm, and this often happens at night. The alates will shed their wings after this flight and locate a safe place to mate (usually in moist wood) and establish their colony by laying eggs.

Fully developed colonies can have from 1-10 million termites. Nonetheless, it generally takes about 3 and 5 years for a settlement to fully mature. As soon as the Formosan colony is mature, the damage it can inflict is usually massive.

Mature colonies can encompass one or more acres of land and can go through 13 ounces of wood in a day. At this pace, one colony of Formosan Subterranean Termites can destroy a wooden structure in virtually three months.

The Formosan Termites construct nests called carton nests, and are made of saliva, fecal matter, and chewed wood; And are usually created within structures that the termites have eaten out.

What differentiates the Formosan Termites from the Native Subterranean Termites is the fact that they make carton nests out of the wood that looks like packed cardboard inside a wall. It is not unfound to discover entire walls full of this carton material.

The Formosan termite termites aren’t selective about where they habit. Their only requirement is that it is in close proximity to moisture and food. While the bulk of the colonies discovered in places close to the ground, some have been found in aerial surroundings.

Formosan Termites can be found in under porches, foam insulation, piers, logs, tree trunks, wooden beams, utility poles, and moist places that are accessible. It’s also not uncommon to find them in crevices, underneath sinks, crawl spaces and even attics.


When looking for Formosan Termites infestations ones should be on the lookout for signs that may include vast swarms of alates in the Spring and Summer evenings, mud tubes, carton nests inside a wall or even hollow-sounding walls

Feeding Habits

Just like all termites, the Formosan Termites feed on paper products and wood fiber due to the amount of cellulose they contain, as they possess cellulose digesting bacteria and other one-celled protozoa in their digestive system that provides nutrition and energy for them.

Nevertheless, they have also been recorded to destroy over 50 plant species, which includes crops like sugarcane and trees like water-bound cypress, oaks, and even some non-cellulose items, which include plastic, mortar asphalt, creosote, soft metals, and rubber when searching for moisture and new food sites.

Have you ever experienced the Formosan termite infestation? Share your thoughts and experience with us on this topic in the comments below.

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