USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Research Topics: Invasive Species

Invasive Insects

Wood-in-use invasives have a tremendous impact on the U.S. economy. Damage and control of termites in the United States has been estimated to cost the public about $5 billion annually. A significant share of this figure is due to the invasive Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus. This species was introduced into Hawaii about 1900 and is widespread in the Hawaiian Islands. It was also introduced into several ports on the mainland United States shortly after WWII, but was not "noticed" for nearly 15 years.

Initially, this devastating pest was restricted to port cities such as New Orleans, Lake Charles, Charleston, and Galveston. Now, however, it is being transported through domestic commerce to many sites in the southeastern U.S. This exotic species alone likely accounts for over $1 billion in damage and control costs. It is the subject of a very large ARS research program centered in New Orleans.

Another exotic causing extensive damage in Florida and Hawaii is the drywood termite, Cryptotermes brevis. This species is pantropical, travels well in cargo, solid wood packing material, and even in wooden boats. It responsible for nearly all of the damage by drywood termites in Hawaii and Florida; the native drywood termites seldom infest structures. Introductions of exotic termites will likely continue with increased globalization of commerce and the movement of goods, especially from Asia to the United States.

The PSW research station has one of the world's leading authorities on termite taxonomy and has developed and evaluated numerous methods for assessment, taxonomy clarification, and control.

Publications on the topic

Research is being conducted by: