Can termites travel in a cargo shipment?

Chin e-mailed in this question:

"Dear Sir,

We would like to confirm can termites transfer from one country to another country during the road transportation?

We have received one shipment from other country via road transportation which the cargo packing is in wooden case, that we found termites with lines of mud and dirt on and inside the wooden case. Now this cargo is left outside with sunlight.

Our warehouse is having regular termites treatment in 1-2 months. Is it safe to move this cargo into our warehouse?

Thank you.



There is one kind of termites that could be transferred in a piece of cargo called drywood termites.

They can form a colony inside any wooden object, and are often moved from place to place in furniture.

They actually have spread to various countries via ports, because they were shipped in similar crates.

Basic Info About Termites

How to Inspect for Termites

Termite Pictures

Ways to Protect Your House

Liquid Treatments

Bait Treatments

Borate Treatments


 You can read more about them on our drywood termites page.

The big sign to look for is stuff around the crate that looks like sawdust - this is unique to the drywood kind of termite. The one thing I would be worried about as far as taking it inside is that if they start swarming, other wooden objects in your warehouse may be infested as well.

If it is another kind of termite, you are not really at risk because most other kinds can't form a colony outside of the soil. If there isn't a colony, they can't swarm and can't spread elsewhere or hatch new termites.

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