Some infestations—just like some epidemics—just come and go. One example of such a case happening in the termite world is with the species Coptotermes gestroi, more popularly known to the West as the Asian subterranean termite and in the East as the Philippine milk termite. This species has been frustrating pest and termite control officials in various countries and states for a while now due to its relatively swift spread from its South-east Asian base to other parts of the globe. In fact, this termite has been found even in the United States, more specifically in Florida and Hawaii. The latter case is actually more curious and is currently under investigation by the state university of Hawaii due to the irregularity of occurrences, the first being in 1963 and the following being in 1999 and 2000. The university is studying the case (or cases, rather) with the aim of better termite prevention in the future for this species.

The Asian subterranean termite is one of the more voracious termite species, and actually bears a remarkably close physical resemblance to another feared termite from the Orient: Coptotermes formosanus, better known in the United States as the Formosan termite. Part of the trouble with studying the Asian subterranean termite, as a matter of fact, has to do with the potential misidentifications made of it as the Formosan termite instead. Even termite prevention and termite extermination professionals who have been working to combat Formosan termites for years in the US agree that the differences between the two species are easy to overlook: indeed, one of them may only be seen with the help of a microscope.

Either way, both species are well-known for their rate of destruction. Both the Formosan and Philippine milk termites are major pests to structure in their home countries, and they bring that fearsome destructiveness to other areas of the world that they colonie. Termite prevention officials in Hawaii are working double-time to study how these termites spread and how to stop it from going further, as the Hawaiian colonies are currently restricted—as far as researchers know—to Oahu. The Florida infestations, however, have been getting larger.

Fortunately for the rest of the mainland (or most of it), termite prevention experts note that the species is a truly tropical or warmth-loving termite. It shall thus be unlikely to spread to other areas with cooler climates. That having been said, there are still other areas of the United States that have fairly warm climates out of the winter months, and climates have in fact been getting hotter. It is feared that species such as this, the Asian subterranean termite, may soon expand their territories faster than expected if proper measures are not taken to stop them.

Written by Alan Ferguson

Alan Ferguson

Hello! My name is Alan Ferguson and I am an expert on the elimination of termites. He graduated in Harvard Business School, and now I care about people whose homes are attacked by pests.