A new invasive species, the Asian subterranean termite, is terrorizing the South Florida ecosystem, environmental experts say.
"We are at risk of losing our houses. If you let it go, it can literally take a house down," said Dr. Thomas Chouvenc, an entomologist with the University of Florida's Research and Education Center in Davie, according to an original report by Local 10 News.
The species is now thriving in the tri-county area.
This termite has the potential to cause more damage than pretty much any other wood-destroying organism, according to experts.
Like so many other invasive species, the Asian subterranean termite infiltrated South Florida by slipping onto yachts and container ships, hiding in personal belongings and cargo.
Chouvenc and his colleagues are looking at the biology of the Asian subterranean termite to uncover its weaknesses.
The Asian subterranean termite has been found from Key West all the way up to Riviera Beach and continues to spread, causing environmental damage along the way.
Scientists say 50 percent of native pine in Fort Lauderdale alone are currently infested with the termites, which has the potential to permanently alter South Florida's tree canopy.