Termites are a group of eusocial insects that, until recently, were classified at the taxonomic rank of order Isoptera.
The Formosan subterranean termite is often nicknamed the super-termite because of its destructive habits. This is because of the large size of its colonies, and the termites' ability to consume wood at a rapid rate. A single colony may contain several million individuals (compared with several hundred thousand termites for other subterranean termite species) that forage up to 300 feet (100 m) in soil.
A mature Formosan colony can consume as much as 13 ounces of wood a day (ca. 400 g) and severely damage a structure in as little as three months. Because of its population size and foraging range, the presence of a colony poses serious threats to nearby structures. Once established, Formosan subterranean termites have never been eradicated from an area.
Formosan subterranean termites infest a wide variety of structures (including boats and high-rise condominiums) and can damage trees. In the United States, along other species, Coptotermes gestroi, also introduced from south east Asia, they are responsible for tremendous damage to property resulting in large treatment and repair costs.
The adults reach 8–10 millimetres (0.31–0.39 in) of length, with a wingspan of about 20 millimetres (0.79 in). The basic coloration of their body is pale yellow or dark brown. The pronotum is yellow-orange (hence the Latin name flavicollis, meaning 'yellow-necked'), while antennae and distal parts of legs are pale yellow.
The male (the king) and the female (the queen) have a more chitinous body, as well two pairs of membranous wings, long, narrow and slightly smoky, essential in the nuptial flight. The wings are held horizontally, overlapping the abdomen when the insect is at rest, so that just one wing is visible. The females are on average a little larger than males.