Termites are social insects that live in large colonies, produce overlapping generations, and take care of their young collectively. They divide labor among workers, solders and reproductives. Subterranean termites nest in the soil and can attack structures by building tubes that connect their nest to wood in structures. Aerial nests can occur without a ground connection if all castes of the colony are present and moisture is available.
Subterranean termites are the most destructive insect pests of wood in the United States. They cause more than $2 billion in damage each year, more property damage than that caused by fire and windstorm combined.
In nature, subterranean termites also are beneficial. They break down many dead trees and other wood materials that would otherwise accumulate. The biomass of this breakdown process is recycled to the soil as humus.
Forest Service termite research in Southern Research Station was initiated in 1938 to focus on biology and control of subterranean termites. Some of the research studies that began from 1946 to 1958 on the Harrison Experimental Forest are still in progress. Visit the history of the termite research in the southern United States for more.
From 1971-1974 the Forest Service provided termiticide efficacy data for product registration and labeling. Additional information on the history of the Forest Service termiticide test sites from 1971 to 2004 at four primary test sites (Arizona and Florida, Mississippi, and South Carolina) can be found at Historical review of termite activity at Forest Service termiticide test sites from 1971 to 2004.
Information on current termiticide testing designed to develop, refine, and assess new and improved controls can be found on Insects, Diseases, and Invasive Plants