Between Burmese pythons and giant African land snails, South Florida already has enough invasive species to worry about. But now officials have detected a new alien threat popping up in our region: the Nasutitermes corniger, a species of termite. These guys are meaner and more threatening than the domestic termites we already have to deal with, and could raise the overall termite population in South Florida by 25 to 30 percent.
Unlike our native termites, these buggers prefer to make their habitat aboveground. According to the Sun-Sentinel, they build "brown tubes up the outside walls of houses and show a particular taste for hardwood."
"They forage on the open floor, which is something you don't see unless you live in the tropics," Rudolf H. Scheffrahn, professor of entomology at the University of Florida, told the paper. "They love to eat hardwoods. They ate the handles off garden implements, rakes and hoes -- turned them into shredded wheat. If this thing really keeps going, it's going to be a problem for tropical Florida, from West Palm Beach to the Keys."
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The good news is that so far they've been found only in Dania Beach. About 42 properties were treated last week after the termites' nests were found. Dania Beach also experienced an outbreak of the termites in 2001, but that population was eradicated. However, they popped up again last summer, and officials hope they can control this outbreak as well.