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Managing Asian subterranean termites starts with education

By Chris Keefer, Technical Services Manager, Professional Pest Management, Syngenta

                         Asian subterranean termite. Source: University of Florida.

Termites will be on the move as the weather warms up in the New Year. Well-maintained structures, proper inspections and the reduction of conducive conditions are key to preventing termites. However, before taking any management steps, you need to be certain it’s actually termites that are causing the damage — not other wood-destroying organisms or water.

Identifying the termite species is imperative to determining your eventual treatment process. Below are important characteristics of the Asian subterranean termite (Coptotermes gestroi), which can cause widespread damage if left unchecked.

  • Range
    • Endemic to southeast Asia
    • Common in eastern Caribbean
    • Found in southern Florida, primarily on the eastern coast and in the Florida Keys
    • Northernmost established populations in Florida are in Ft. Lauderdale and Riviera Beach
  • Identification
    • Features of soldiers:
      • Teardrop-shaped head
      • Fontanelle present
      • Slight bulge on head capsule
        • Absent in Formosan subterranean termites
      • One pair of hairs near fontanelle
        • Two pairs in Formosan subterranean termites
    • Features of alates:
      • Short, dense hairs on wings
        • Hairs on wings are shorter than those on Formosan subterranean termites
      • Wing length is between 13-14 mm
        • 14-15 mm for Formosan subterranean termites
      • Head width is 1.4 mm
        • 1.5 mm for Formosan subterranean termites
      • Antennal spots are visible
        • Not visible on Formosan subterranean termites
  • Activity
    • Attracted to lights
    • Swarm at dusk or at night between February and April
      • Formosan subterranean termite swarms start in May

Once the Asian subterranean termite species has been identified, deploy termite bait stations at regular intervals to help intersect foraging termites. A complete barrier with a liquid soil treatment should also be made around the perimeter of the infested structure, and all utility penetrations should be treated.

As the first liquid soil-applied termiticide registered as reduced-risk for use on termites by the Environmental Protection Agency,* Altriset® termiticide from Syngenta features a non-repellent formulation that stops termite feeding within hours of exposure. While termites’ mouthparts become paralyzed shortly after contacting Altriset-treated soil, exposed termites will congregate with unexposed individuals, which increases the chances of Altriset being spread throughout the colony. Altriset also has a low impact on non-target beneficial organisms like earthworms when used in accordance with the label.

By having a critical eye and implementing controls accordingly, you can make quick work of these pesky termites. For more information, visit or contact your local Syngenta territory manager.

All photos are either the property of Syngenta or are used with permission.

*A reduced risk pesticide use is defined as one which may reasonably be expected to accomplish one or more of the following; (1) reduces pesticide risks to human health; (2) reduces pesticide risks to non-target organisms; (3) reduces the potential for contamination of valued, environmental resources, or (4) broadens adoption of IPM or makes it more effective. Altriset qualifies under one or more of the above criteria.


Keefer, T. C., R. P. Puckett and R. E. Gold. 2010. Effect of Premise 75 as perimeter treatments on structures infested with Reticulitermes flavipes and Coptotermes formosanus (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae). Sociobiology 56 (3): 795-808.

Potter, M. F. 2018. Termite Baits. EntFact 639.University of Kentucky. September 2018. Scheffrahn R.H. and N-Y Su. 1994. Keys to soldier and winged adult termites (Isoptera) of Florida. Florida Entomologist 77: 460-474.

Scheffrahn R. H. and N-Y Su. 2017. Featured Creatures, Asian subterranean termite. EENY-128. University of Florida. June 2017

Su N-Y and R. H. Scheffrahn. 2016. Featured Creatures, Formosan subterranean termite. EENY-121. University of Florida. April 2016.

©2019 Syngenta. Important: Always read and follow label instructions. Some products may not be registered for sale or use in all states or counties. Please check with your local extension service to ensure registration status. Altriset®, For Life Uninterrupted™ and the Syngenta logo are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. Syngenta Customer Center: 1-866-SYNGENT(A) (796-4368).

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© Syngenta. Important: Always read and follow label instructions. Some products may not be registered for sale or use in all states or counties and/or may have state-specific use requirements. Please check with your local extension service to ensure registration and proper use. The trademarks displayed or otherwise used herein are trademarks or service marks of a Syngenta Group Company or third parties. Syngenta Customer Center: 1-866-SYNGENT(A) (796-4368).