Potential distribution and cost estimation of the damage caused by Cryptotermes brevis (Isoptera: Kalotermitidae) in the Azores.
In the Azores archipelago, a significant proportion of buildings are infested with the urban exotic drywood termite Cryptotermes brevis (Walker), causing major economical and patrimonial losses. This work aims to understand the potential spread of this termite species in the Azores and estimate the costs for both treatment and reconstruction of infested buildings in the entire archipelago. A maximum entropy niche modeling process was used to determine the potential occurrence of the species on each island. Different scenarios were built using independent global and regional incidence and environmental data. Both projections reveal the same pattern. Generally, the probability of occurrence is higher near the coast line, where, in Azores, the majority of the towns and villages are located. We also predict that the infestation has potential to spread to yet unaffected towns and islands. It is estimated that the cost of treating all currently infested buildings in the archipelago is Euro 51 million, while reconstruction of the same buildings would rise the costs to Euro 175 million. We predict that the absence of a control strategy will cause a further expansion of the pest to more localities in the Azores. An estimate to future scenarios implies higher costs, with treatment and rebuilding values rising up to eight times the current values.