The hot, sticky climate of Mississippi acts as a humid sort of invitation to a variety of bugs and pests, the most formidable of which is arguably the Formosan Subterranean Termite. As one drives along the scenic streets of Hattiesburg, it is not unusual to catch a glimpse of a giant, cartoonish tent enveloping a termite-infested home. The carnival colors of these fumigation tarps signify one thing: termite season is coming.

Before you prepare for the oppressive buzz of billions of swarming termites, here are a few fun facts about how the invasive Formosans infiltrated Mississippi:

The End of World War II: The Beginning of the Era of Formosan

Mississippi is no stranger to invasive, aggressive bugs. The wolf spiders are worrying. The bed bugs are belligerent. But until 1945, the end of World War II, termites were all but strangers to the Gulf Coast. While the pesky termites are native to Southern China and then Formosa, Taiwan, America was probably introduced to the white, noodle-ish beasts in the 1950s, when U.S. forces packed up and left Japan and China. The wooden crates the Navy used to transport their belongings were likely infested with millions of wriggling Formosan termites. And, as Mississippi has so unfortunately witnessed, once the termites have burrowed, they are there to stay. In the entire history of the world, Formosan termites have never been eradicated from an area.

Why is this? For being a colony of mindless insects, the Formosan termites are a little over-the-top. The colonies are larger, the termites themselves are huge and they breed at an alarming rate. A single colony can house as many as one million termites and “swarmer” Formosans can grow up to a 1/2 inch in overall length (wings included). The swarms of termites gather near light sources during mating season, resembling an impenetrable, dusty could. Mating season may be the only time Mississippi residents are happy to see ants and spiders, because they are the primary hunters of termites.

The Most Formo-dible of Tenants!

The only reason these termites haven’t gone and infested the rest of the United States is because their eggs cannot hatch at any temperature lower than 68 degrees, Fahrenheit. This only means that the costly burden of Formosa termites falls on the southern states. Formosan termites cause billions of dollars of damage each year by munching on historic trees, homes and commercial buildings.

The queen of a Formosan colony can live up to 15 years, while her diligent, wood-chomping soldiers typically last anywhere between 3-5 years. The species is so difficult to eradicate because they are susceptible to dehydration and therefore use a tunneling system called “Mud Tubes,” which are constructed from soil, wood and termite saliva, to burrow deep beneath the homes they intend to feast upon. They can also branch out up to 15 feet above ground in order to funnel resources back to the home base.

Call Orkin Today for a Free Quote!

Fortunately for homeowners, the sheer magnitude of these colonies is their biggest weakness. Although they have been referred to as a “super-termite”, they are still simply a colony of insects and their massive tunnels of “Mud Tubes” make them easy to spot. If you believe you have a termite infestation, there is no time to waste. Call Orkin to get your bug problem under control once and for all.