Potential pest status of the formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus shiraki (Blattodea: Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae), in response to climate change in the Korean peninsula.
Climate change impacts the current and potential distribution of many insects, since temperature is often a limiting factor to where the insects can survive. The Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki (Blattodea: Rhinotermitidae), has never been reported in South Korea despite its close proximity to 2 countries (China and Japan) where this economically important pest has been reported. This may be due to the average winter temperature in South Korea which is below 4°C, the lower limit of the current distribution range of Formosan subterranean termite. However, with climate change leading to increased temperatures, South Korea may be susceptible to successful invasion by Formosan subterranean termite. The objective of this study is to estimate the future possible distribution of Formosan subterranean termite in Korea based on temperature. Climate data from Korea showed a significant increase of 2.19°C per 100 yr in average annual temperature from 1910 to 2018. Previous and current average winter temperatures were higher than 4°C only in Jeju, and most provinces did not exceed 4°C, except for some southern cities such as Busan in 2000 to 2019. With the estimated rate of temperature rises, winter temperatures in Gyeongsangnam-do will exceed 4°C starting from 2020, and Jeollanam-do will exceed 4°C from 2060. Coupled with the statistically significant, increased annual trade between Korea and other countries (China, Japan, Taiwan, and the USA) where C. formosanus is currently distributed, we predict that Formosan subterranean termite will become established in South Korea, probably starting from a southern trade port such as Busan.