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Local Termites are Crossbreeding, Creating a New Hybrid Species

termitesAs if it weren’t bad enough that Asian and Formosan subterranean termites call Florida home, causing massive amounts of damage to property, now it seems we are on the verge of seeing a whole new threat of termites. The offspring of the two species have met, mated, and produced a hybrid that some experts believe might be more destructive than anything we’ve seen before.

If you believe you might have a problem with any variety of termite, don’t wait for them to chew you out of your house and home. Call the Orlando pest control experts at Apex Pest Control—we have the knowledge, experience, and tools to get rid of any termite problem, regardless of its heritage.

The new species has been confirmed by researchers at The University of Florida, who have been studying the bugs, both in their lab and in the wild in South Florida. First, they set up a monitoring site where both species were known to exist and then watched them during swarming season. Sure enough, they spotted instances of the wood destroyers crossing species lines and mating. In some cases the males of one species seemed to actually prefer the females of the other species. Next, they brought some of the bugs into their lab and found that when the two mated, they were capable of producing offspring and that offspring created nests at twice the growth rate of their parent species. There have been no confirmed sightings of the new hybrid species in the wild as of yet, but the researchers believe they are out there, likely already causing damage somewhere. Researchers can’t say for sure yet whether the offspring are sterile or not, a common occurrence with crossbreeding. In any case, they believe the cross-breeding insects are likely to cause a lot more damage than either species alone, pointing out that a termite colony can last up to twenty years, and grow to a population of millions. The researchers say the threat is real.

None of this is good news. Until now, it was believed that the two species could not mate because they swarmed at different times, but that turned out to be wrong. The scientists found that there is a short period during which both species swarm, giving them ample time for a bit of termite dalliance.

So, what does this mean for Floridians? Sadly, the researchers suggest the hybrids might also eat wood faster than either of the two parent species. Also, there is a possibility that the new termites might be better able to tolerate temperature changes, perhaps migrating to other states.

For worried homeowners, the best option is to be even more vigilant in watching for signs of termites (mud tunnels, droppings, wings, or weakened wood) or to contact an Orlando Pest Control expert such as the professionals at Apex Pest Control at 1-800-675-4070.

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