Environmental Protection Ministry monitors proliferation of Formosan subterranean termite which is capable of eating through plastic, rubber, concrete and soft metals and urges public to report sightings of pest

Noa Fisher | Published: 06.29.21

The Environmental Protection Ministry announced Tuesday that it identified Formosan subterranean termite in several localities near Petah Tikva where the invasive species was first spotted in Israel in 2020.

The super-termite, which originates in southern China and Taiwan, is highly destructive since a queen of a single colony has a life span of 15 years and is capable of producing up to 2,000 eggs per day. The enormous size of its colonies, coupled with the rapid rate at which it consumes wood, is guaranteed to leave much devastation in this species’ wake.

The termites have been observed in several communities near Petah Tikva and locals reported spotting thousands of insects spreading their wings and flying about in search of a mate.The Environmental Protection Ministry was quick to respond to these reports and began monitoring the situation alongside The Nature and Parks Authority and the Nature Museum at Tel Aviv University, confirming that the highly destructive pest has managed to spread despite numerous control and extermination efforts.The ministry urged the public to report any sightings of the super-termite since the only way to eradicate this fast-multiplying species is feeding them growth inhibitors that would eventually spread among the nest upon their return.

טרמיט-העל הפורמוסי
The Formosan subterranean termite
(Photo: University of Florida)

While harmless to humans, the Formosan termite is known to cause massive damage to property thanks to its ability to eat through plastic, rubber, concrete and soft metals. It also damages water pipes, underground electric lines and telecom infrastructure.The super-termites also have an adverse effect on several species of flora, including citrus, oak, eucalyptus and various conifers.

טרמיט העל הפורמוסי
A Formosan super-termite caught in Petah Tikva
(Photo: Noa Fisher)

Their rapid feeding rate weakens trees from the inside which in turn can cause them to collapse from strong winds. It can also outright kill them if the termites reach and feed on the tree’s roots.In China, one of its countries of origin, the species has damaged thousands of flood protection barriers, which in turn caused flooding in several parts of the country. This pest causes tens of billions of dollars in damages each year the world over.