Two subterranean termite species swarming now in South Florida are raising concerns for homeowners and entomologists alike, as well as the beginning of drywood termite swarm season…
Hulett Environmental Services, pest control's finest, encourages South Florida homeowners to be aware that researchers at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences predict that the Formosan subterranean termite and the Asian subterranean termite are on track to cause damage to at least half of the structures in the greater Southern Florida area by 2040.
Interestingly, it is important to note that not even concrete homes are safe from some termites as they can breach through to your attic and even furniture both inside and outside your home. Just because homeowners do not see the termites does not mean they are not there…as in South Florida there are two types of homes: Those that have termites and those that will. Better safe than sorry is definitely the case so yearly termite home inspections are heavily recommended.
Subterranean termite population expanding!
Currently, Florida houses six invasive termite species but UF researchers are focusing their attention on the Formosan and Asian subterranean termites because expanding numbers of these species pose the potential to cause the most damage to the Greater Miami Beach/Palm Beach/Ft. Lauderdale areas. Also recently discover was an Asian Formosan subterranean species that is a cross, and has been called the "Super Termite". Hulett, other companies and industry experts hope to see this species eradicated or at least unable to spread throughout Florida due to its heavily destructive nature.
About subterranean termites
- Natives of China, Formosan workers are cream-colored and wingless, soldiers have elongated brown heads and mandibles and brownish-yellow undersides, while supplementary reproductives are light-colored and primary reproductives range from brown to black with wings. Most South Florida residents will only see the termites swarming, which appear this time of year (as it is termite season) and have wings.
- Asians are a tropical species, endemic to Southeast Asia. Asian alates range from caramel to brownish yellow and after swarming, keep their wings longer than most other termites. Formosans look very similar to Asian alates. Hulett was actually the first company in Florida to discover the Asian subterranean termite had spread to our area.
- Subterranean termites swarm in the morning or early evening usually after a rain in the spring or summer, but can swarm at any time of the year.
- Formosan termites build giant underground nests containing millions of termites. They move fast and cause damage not only quicker but at a higher rate, and require immediate treatment when discovered to avoid further home damage not cover by homeowner's insurance.
- Formosan termites destroy structural timbers, utility poles and other timber structures, including ships and barges within a few months. They have even been known in some cases to move through concrete.
- Asian termites have been detected in boats and in homes near the shore in South Florida; they are voracious eaters and can even eat holes in rubber and plastic in their search for wood and the food it takes to reach the wood.
- Formosan and Asian termite infestations can occur even in living trees, such as oak, cypress, pine and maple. Formosan termites often also cause power failures, chewing through electrical cables. There termites than swarm from these areas to nearby homes starting a new colony.
Fundamentally, subterranean termites cause most of the termite damage worldwide.
Globally, Formosan and Asian subterranean termites are responsible for damage totaling around $32 billion dollars annually at least. This figure includes structural damage repairs, as well as pest control services. The University of Florida study, led by Professors Nan-Yao, Su Rudy Scheffrahn and Assistant Researcher, Thomas Chouvenc is set for a June 2016 publication, in Florida Entomologist, and states that Formosan and Asian subterranean termites account for most of the termite damage worldwide.
Oddly, in the continental US, the overlap of these two subterranean termite species occurs only in South Florida, home to 6 million residents. Formosan termites can be traced all along the Florida coastlines and beyond, and the Asian subterranean termites continue to spread to new areas raising concern in the pest control industry. It is important to keep in mind how quickly termite species have been known spread and move.
Study analyzes increasing termite activity
By analyzing the geographic spread of subterranean termite specimens from 1990-2015, the UF study estimates that any home or structure within a 500-foot radius of a Formosan or Asian subterranean termite would be at risk for a termite infestation, and that is the minimum as cases have occurred from farther distances.
Since 1990, these two types of termites have expanded their ranges considerably in Florida. Because of the distances these two types of termites fly and due to a rising increase in moving termite-infested material from one location to another, the UF Gator team said that as a result, "the number of infested structures has increased exponentially."
Another potential threat, according to the University of Florida study is that Formosan and Asian termites have been able to breed producing a stronger, super breed termite hybrid. Known by most as the "super termite" found only here in South Florida recently.
Fortunately, South Florida homeowners do have a variety of options for both preventative and curative treatments and can contact Hulett Environmental Services; as we have been treating South Florida homes for termites for over 45 years and are a full service, fully licensed and certified family business. We offer a free home and landscape inspection with no obligation, and then customize a family and pet-friendly termite prevention and monitoring plan for your South Florida property.