The Formosan termite was first detected in Florida in 1980, but it already had a few centuries of experience settling down in new surroundings.
This species, Coptotermes formosanus, is probably native to southern China. It had become established in Japan by the 1600s, and turned up in the Hawaiian islands in the late 1800s.
In the contiguous United States, the Formosan subterranean termite appeared in Texas, Louisiana and South Carolina in the 1960s. In 1980 Florida was officially declared to be home to the species, when a well-established colony was found in Hallandale, in Broward County.
Today, the Formosan subterranean termite is established in almost every major urban center in the state.
Insect for insect, this species is no more destructive than other subterranean termites. But the sheer size of its colonies — up to several million termites — makes the Formosan subterranean termite a big threat to buildings everywhere it goes.
One more thing — despite the name “subterranean,” this termite can colonize structures above the ground. In Southeast Florida urban areas, about one-fourth of Formosan subterranean termite nests were located on the roofs of tall buildings, close to areas where water tended to puddle regularly.