Itís been over 35 years since a major U.S. national termite survey was done. In 1965, the National Pest Control Association published The Termites of the United States: A Handbook by Frances M. Weesner. This 71-page publication described termite biology, morphology, and included keys and documented termite distribution of that time. Distribution data was generated from collections sent in from pest control companies and universities.
Currently, there is no defined number of native and introduced species present in the U.S. The distribution of these approximately 45-50 species is poorly defined. For example, the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus, has been reported in 11 states; however, the overall distribution within these states is not clearly known and many reports have been unconfirmed.
This year, the New Orleans Mosquito & Termite Control Board is conducting an updated and expanded U.S. termite survey. For specimens, this survey will rely primarily on many of the over 20,000 pest control companies. Additional data will come from university collections. Databases and procedures for collection, preservation, and identification have been worked out in a recently completed survey of the termites of Louisiana.
From pest control companies, we are requesting that they remove several termite specimens from each job site and include a brief description of the collection site. If you are willing to participate, then labelled vials, padded envelopes with return postage, and a collecting device (aspirator) will be sent to you. Only termite soldiers and alates will be identified to species, but including any workers is desirable. Further information about collecting will be provided upon agreeing to participate.
Specimens will be properly preserved for future scientific study, such as DNA analysis, and permanently stored for future reference. In addition to updated distribution data, we are planning on updating the termite keys. The 1965 survey did not contain detailed state distribution records of termites. It is also unclear as to how many termite species are currently present in the U.S., including native and introduced species. This survey should more clearly establish this information, which should help both pest management professionals and researchers.