The diversity of termite species is at its greatest in tropical regions of the world. Central and South America, Africa and Southeast Asia are all home to the most diverse populations of native termite species, but not non-native termite species. As it happens, the diversity of non-native termite species is at its greatest within the state of Florida. The amount of non-native termite species in Florida outnumber the amount of non-native termites contained within all other states, countries and even continents. This is due to the high amount of commercial trading vessels that dock at Florida ports. Many of these trading vessels arrive to Florida from tropical regions where exotic termite populations are high. It is not uncommon for these exotic termites to infest wooden shipping pallets and even the goods being shipped to Florida. Once infested shipments arrive to the largely tropical southern coast of Florida, the non-native termites have no problem surviving in this new region, as southern Florida’s climate is well suited for non-native termite habitats. Non-native termites infesting pleasure boats and yachts that travel from termite-heavy Caribbean regions to the Florida coast is yet another reason as to why non-native termite diversity is at its highest in Florida. Unlike other types of non-native insects that arrive in Florida, non-native termite populations do not decrease once they have been established in the state, and this is the case even when control measures are introduced and practiced. Unfortunately, based on data concerning termite populations in Florida, experts believe that the state will continue to see the establishment of more unmanageable exotic termite species in the future.
Researchers have not yet determined why non-native termite species maintain stable populations within Florida despite eradication efforts. But some experts believe that termites can survive in non-native regions with more success than other non-native insects because termites have a superior ability to resist deadly pathogens in the environment. Non-native termites in Florida also do not have to contend with the parasitic and predatory threats that exist within their native regions of origin. These factors, along with Florida’s abundance of nesting sites and other resources that are valuable to tropical termites, make eradicating non-native termites in Florida a challenging task that has yet to be successful.
Do you think that non-native termites from the Caribbean and other locations could invade more temperate states in the US?