How Long Does It Take For A Newly Established Formosan Subterranean Termite Colony To Become Destructive?

The Formosan subterranean termite is the most economically costly termite species in Louisiana. The eastern subterranean termite and the dark southern subterranean termite tend to be the most destructive termite species after the Formosan, but an additional five termite species also cause significant structural damage annually in most areas of the state. Reproductive swarmers (alates) of the Formosan subterranean termite are known to take flight from March through June, but the majority of Formosan swarms occur during May and June. Unlike native subterranean termite species in the US, male and female alates of the Formosan subterranean termite species often initiate new colony nesting sites within wet wood as well as moist ground soil. In most cases, Formosan workers infest buildings from their ground habitat, and infestations initiated by alates are less common.

The first eggs are produced around seven days following the establishment of a new colony by Formosan alates, and egg production continues well into the fall season. Termite colonies are generally slow to mature, as colonies only become capable of producing reproductive alates after four to seven years of maturation. However, Formosan colonies mature at a slightly faster rate than native subterranean termite species in the US. The female alate, which becomes the queen of a new colony, deposits only around 46 eggs during the first five months after a colony is initiated, and hatching occurs between 24 and 33 days. At two years, a Formosan colony has around 250 individuals, and by the third year of existence, a colony has grown to contain 1,240 individuals. At four years, a Formosan subterranean termite colony contains around 50,000 individuals, most of which are workers that begin foraging far enough from the nest to encounter homes. Although Formosan colonies can become destructive to structural wood at around 4 years of age, 50,000 colony members is not much when considering that mature colonies contain well over one million individuals. Most experts agree that Formosan subterranean termite colonies can last for 50 years.

Do you know how to identify Formosan subterranean termite alates?

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