Living With Termite Swarms II

Fiji experienced large termite swarms in 2011. In 2016, they are back.
The swarms engulfed towns across Lautoka, Fiji in September and October of 2016.  Residents reported fleeing their homes when millions of termites poured out of the floorboards.  People covered their mouths with shirts or other available cloth to prevent inhaling or ingesting the termites.  Others made shelters under the covers in their beds.  The termites are attracted to lights and swarmed buses and other vehicles on the road.  Buses turned off the lights and and turned on windshield wipers to improve visibility in the massive swarms.

Asian SIberian Termite

Asian SIberian Termite
Photo: Rudolf H. Scheffrahn, University of Florida

This horror show is caused by the invasive Asian Subterranean Termite, Coptotermes gestroi. The Biosecurity Agency of Fiji has been battling the termites for years. The swarms are reproductives that pair with a mate and seek a site to begin a new colony. Since they are attracted to light, homeowners sit in darkness and light small fires as a trap to kill the termites and distract them away from buildings. The smoke from the fires adds another level of darkness to cities in blackout mode.

A single colony can contain over 1 million termites. Residents are requested to contact authorities about eliminating termite colonies found in their homes or buildings. A homeowner treatment that disperses rather than kills the termites can lead to infestation of nearby buildings. Despite spending over a $ Million for control measures, termites continue to plague the country.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Environment, Invasive Species, Pest Management. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Living With Termite Swarms II

  1. Pingback: Living With Termite Swarms II – Entomo Planet

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