Formosan termites have infested the Gulf Coast of the US since the late 1940s when they hitched a ride on solid wooden packing used to crate returning military equipment. Formosan termites are a threat to wooden structure in New Orleans historic French Quarter and have spread east to Florida. Formosan termites are now having a significant effect on Jacksonville, having done enough damage to the historic Women’s Club building to lead to its condemnation and destruction.
Jacksonville is now engaging in a program to limit the damage. Formosan termites can nest in landscape trees, weakening and destroying them as well as damage buildings. This creates a large number of nesting sites that make location of nests difficult. Termite management depends on identifying areas with significant termite populations. In spring, termite reproductives swarm to find mates and start new colonies. It is easier to locate termite locations by trapping flying adults.
Jacksonville is deploying 50 termite traps that use the termites attraction to light. Solar powered lights are paired with a sticky trap that will capture termites and other insects attracted to lights. The data from the traps will be used to help inspectors search for nests, locate and destroy them to limit the population.
Once an invasive species like the Formosan termite establishes in an area, elimination or eradication may be impossible. The only option to reduce damage may be an expensive management program.