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The general attitude that people have about termites differs from region to region. In some regions of the world, termites are considered to be crop pests more so than pests to man-made structures. In Africa, for example, many termite species avoid man-made structures in favor of cellulose-containing materials that are abundant in the natural environment. However, no matter where you go in the world, termites are known for destroying wood. It is generally understood that termites and wood-constructed structures do not mix. Obviously, Americans know termites as destroyers of homes, but now a new type of termite species must be reckoned with on American soil. The invasive Asian subterranean termite species not only infests man-made structures, but living trees as well. Asian subterranean termites are notorious for the damage that they cause to living and dead forms of wood. Traditionally, the Asian subterranean termite is not a concern for Americans, but this termite species has recently been discovered infesting healthy pine trees located in the southeast United States.

Termite damage to living trees is not unprecedented on the North American continent. This blog has already described the damage that invasive Formosan subterranean termites can inflict on American trees. Although Formosan termites have been known to hollow-out a few different tree species in America, this termite behavior is not widespread enough to be considered a concern to environmentalists. However, the closely related Asian subterranean termite species may become a major destroyer of pine trees in the United States.

According to Thomas Chouvenc, an assistant professor of entomology, Asian subterranean termites are not just destroying American pine trees, but many other trees as well. Chouvenc recently completed the first study concerning Asian subterranean termite damage on American soil. The study found that Asian subterranean termites have destroyed up to twelve percent of pine trees during the past few years. Even more alarming is the fact that Chouvenc also found Asian subterranean termite infestations in fifty percent of all trees surveyed for the study. This trend clearly suggests that the Asian subterranean termite species is only beginning to show how devastating it can be in its non-native environment of North America.

Do you think that Asian subterranean termites will become well known as tree-killing termites within the United States at some point in the future?

 

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