Two of the most destructive termite species in the world — responsible for much of the $40 billion in economic loss caused by termites annually — are now swarming simultaneously in South Florida, creating hybrid colonies that grow quickly and have the potential to migrate to other states.
In an article published today in the journal PLOS ONE, a team of University of Florida entomologists has documented that the Asian and Formosan subterranean termite simultaneously produce hundreds of thousands of alates, or winged males and females. Both species have evolved separately for thousands of years, but in South Florida, they now have the opportunity to meet, mate and start new hybrid colonies.
While researchers have yet to determine if the hybrid termite is fertile or sterile, it likely poses a danger, said Nan-Yao Su, an entomology professor at the UF Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, part of UF’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
“Because a termite colony can live up to 20 years with millions of individuals, the damaging potential of a hybrid colony remains a serious threat to homeowners even if the hybrid colony does not produce fertile winged termites,” Su said. “This is especially true when the colony exhibits hybrid vigor as we witnessed in the laboratory.”
UF scientists previously thought the two termite species had distinct swarming seasons that prevented them from interacting. Their new research indicates not only an overlap of seasons where the two species are interbreeding; it shows that male Asian termites prefer to mate with Formosan females rather than females of their own species, increasing the risk of hybridization.
“This is worrisome, as the combination of genes between the two species results in highly vigorous hybridized colonies that can develop twice as fast as the two parental species,” said Thomas Chouvenc, an assistant researcher who works with Su. “The establishment of hybrid termite populations is expected to result in dramatically increased damage to structures in the near future.”
Additionally, Chouvenc said, if hybridized colonies have the ability to produce large numbers of fertile alates, this new termite menace could inherit the invasive qualities of both parental species and make its way out of Florida.
Both the Asian and Formosan species already have spread to many areas of the world. The Formosan subterranean termite, which originated in China, is now established throughout the southeastern United States. The Asian subterranean termite, a tropical species originating in Southeast Asia, has spread to Brazil and the Caribbean Islands, making it potentially the most invasive termite in the world.
The Latest on: Invasive species
via Google News
The Latest on: Invasive species
- Website highlights state-funded invasive species effortson September 7, 2019 at 7:23 pm
If you've heard of hemlock woolly adelgid, New Zealand mud snails or oak wilt, then you may be aware they are invasive species in Michigan. But for those uninitiated to the potential damage from these ...
- Invasive species that can impede fish, ducks, boats near Lake Michiganon September 7, 2019 at 10:28 am
European frogbit is on the Michigan DNR’s invasive species watch list. Mats of frogbit can grow thick enough to impede boats, large fish and diving ducks. (Photo: Huron Pines) Frogbit, a prohibited ...
- Adorable Cats Are Such Efficient Killing Machines That Australian Scientists Have to Step in to Save Other Specieson September 6, 2019 at 2:44 pm
Australia is host to 56 introduced invasive vertebrate animal species, one of the deadliest being the feral cat. It’s bizarre to think of cats an invasive species, but in Australia, despite the fact ...
- Woman kicks mama duck, lets dogs maul duckling thinking they’re an invasive species, cops sayon September 6, 2019 at 12:22 pm
A St. Petersburg woman said a mother duck and its duckling were attacking her dogs. So, she kicked the mother and let the dogs maul the baby, deputies said. Around 9 a.m. Sunday, two people saw Bonnie ...
- Centre to document, research & control invasive specieson September 6, 2019 at 6:42 am
COIMBATORE: The centre for sustainable future at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham here has been selected by the union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) to set up an ...
- North Idaho park uses free ice cream to battle invasive snailson September 6, 2019 at 12:54 am
At one Idaho State Park, the sweet treats are being used as a way to combat the invasive species. "It makes a weird connection, doesn't it?" joked Mary McGraw, who manages Round Lake state park in ...
- Mass Barbecue is the Invasive Species of Our Culinary Timeson September 3, 2019 at 7:38 pm
From the colonial era well into the 20th century, large public barbecues were an institution across the South, from the Chesapeake eventually to Texas. Although these occasions could be linked to ...
- Not your average tumbleweed: New hybrid species larger, more invasive than common varietyon September 3, 2019 at 10:44 am
Not your average tumbleweed: New hybrid species larger, more invasive than common variety Researchers have discovered that the hybrid tumbleweed is bigger and has the potential to spread more quickly ...
- The Perfect Storm: Hurricane Dorian And People May Annihilate Three Bird Specieson September 3, 2019 at 9:02 am
However, the “nail in the coffin” of the Bahama oriole is probably the arrival of the shiny cowbird, Molothrus bonariensis, an invasive species that lays its eggs in the nests of other bird species.
- Shippensburg professors' work aims to combat invasive specieson August 29, 2019 at 1:06 pm
SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. — Sara Grove and Michael Moltz, political-science professors at Shippensburg University, have been working behind the scenes to help Pennsylvania combat invasive species. Invasive ...
via Bing News