Pressure from subterranean termites is known to vary geographically across the United States, but there are few quantitative studies concerning the threat of structural infestation for any geographic region. We assessed the number and locations of termite colonies present on 20 infested residential properties in central North Carolina, where subterranean termite pressure is considered to be heavy. This was achieved by using microsatellite markers to determine colony identity of termites collected over 6–14 mo from mud tubes in structures, below-ground monitors, and wood debris in the yard. In total, we identified 188 distinct colonies and determined their breeding structures. Reticulitermes flavipes (Kollar) was by far the most common species, accounting for nearly 90% of all colonies; the remaining colonies belonged to Reticulitermes hageni Banks and Reticulitermes virginicus (Banks). In four cases, there were two colonies infesting a structure simultaneously; in all other cases only a single colony was detected in the structure. Colony densities were high, averaging 62 colonies per ha (25 per acre) with a maximum of 185 colonies per ha (75 colonies per acre). Foraging ranges of R. flavipes and R. hageni colonies were generally small (<30 linear m), and most colonies were headed by a single pair of monogamous reproductives with nearly all the remaining colonies headed by relatively few inbreeding descendants of the original monogamous pair. These results provide the most detailed picture to date of the number, distribution, and colony characteristics of subterranean termite colonies located in and around residential structures.
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Vol. 101 • No. 4