Tag Archives: Termites

Termite Spotlight: Subterranean Termites

Termite Spotlight: Subterranean Termites

South Florida’s unique tropical ecosystem supports more species of household pests than anywhere else. Most homeowners in South Florida know that they need to protect their most valuable investment from the heartache and financial headache of termite damage. Aside from the cost associated with termite damage repair, termite damage can decrease your home’s value and even worse, homeowner’s insurance doesn’t usually cover termite damage. Adding to the unpleasant subject of termites, for some homeowners, out of sight is out of mind. In the past, those termites you couldn’t see infesting your home, in out of the way places like your basement, needed a while to do any major damage to your home.

Enter Formosa and Asian subterranean termites

Well, times have changed. Since the 1980s and 90s, several invasive termite species are, as the University of Florida (UF) reported, “on track to infest over half the structures in South Florida by 2040.” It’s a sobering thought but these aggressive termites are voracious eaters on a mission to multiply. South Florida does have its own native subterranean termite species but the invasive Formosan and Asian subterranean termites leave those guys in the sawdust, building larger colonies, with millions instead of a few thousand members.

Invasive subterranean termites were most likely introduced to the US via shipping containers

Formosan subterranean termites: Coptotermes formosanus, the most widely distributed termite of economic concern gets its name from an early 1900 description of this species in Taiwan but is thought to be endemic to southern China. Reports point to accounts of Formosan termites in Japan before the 1800s and in Hawaii during the late 1800s. In the 1950s, reports of Formosans in South Africa were soon followed in the 1960s by instances in Texas, Louisiana, and South Carolina. Then, in 1980, a well-established colony was discovered in a condominium in Hallandale, Florida. Today, Formosan termites can be found in almost every urban area in Florida including Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, according to the UF Entomology Department.

Asian subterranean termites: Coptotermes gestroi, similar to the Formosan termite is endemic to southeast Asia. Collected in 1932 in the Pacific, on the Marquesas Islands, as well as in the Indian Ocean’s Mauritius and Reunion Islands, in 1936 and 1957, respectively, Asian subterranean termites were first reported in Brazil in 1923 and in Barbados in 1937. Recently collected in West Indian islands, the list of Asian termite locations include all major islands in the Caribbean, the Bahamas, the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba and southern Mexico. In 1996, Asian subterranean termites made landfall in the continental US in a storefront and church in Miami. 1999 found an Asian subterranean termite infestation in a Key West home.

Both Formosan and Asian subterranean termites are established in Broward and Miami-Dade Counties today, making these locations the only place in the world where these species overlap territories. Due to warmer temps, both species are swarming at the same time, leading UF researchers to keep a lookout for a new hybrid super-species.

Identifying subterranean termites

Native subterranean termites – Averaging 0.3 inches in length, including wings with dark brown bodies, native subterranean termite alates generally swarm February through March, usually after a rainstorm in the morning or around dusk.

Asian subterranean termites – About ½ inch in length, yellowish-brown in color with hairs on their wings, Asian subterranean termite alates swarm February to April.

Formosan subterranean termites – Yellowish-brown bodies with small hairs on their wings, Formosan termite alates, range in size from about ½ inch to a little over a ½ inch. Swarming occurs April to July beginning at dusk on calm and humid evenings.

Formosan and Asian swarms can be distinguished from native subterranean termites by the massive number of alates in prenuptial flight. The soldiers of both Formosan and Asian subterraneans feature a large forehead opening, known as a fontanelle, thought to be used for spraying a sticky substance to fight off predators.

Swarming may indicate termite activity

After termite alates swarm in order to find mates and start new colonies, they lose their wings and burrow into a quiet place to breed. Discovering discarded wings outside your home could be a sign to check further for termite activity. Alates are attracted to light so if you’re finding discarded wings on windowsills and near other light sources inside your home, you should contact a pest professional as soon as possible, as this may indicate a termite infestation.

Other signs of subterranean termite activity

Subterranean termites live in a network of nests under the soil outside your home. In order to access your home through wood to ground contact or through damp wood near your foundation, subterranean termites build mud tubes that worker termites use to transport wood from your home to feed the throngs of hungry termites in nests below. Invasive subterranean termite colonies can support multiple queens, building networks that contain millions of members.

With so many mouths to feed, invasive termites are much more aggressive than native subterranean termites and can destroy a home in a matter of months. Mud tubes running up the walls of your foundation indicate subterranean termite activity.

Contact a professional

Subterranean termites, especially Formosan and Asian termites, should be handled by professional, trusted pest control technicians. Hulett Environmental Services, a leader in South Florida pest control for over 45 years employs certified and licensed, entomologist-trained technicians that address your subterranean termite issues. Utilizing our IPM, or integrated pest management system, we use environmentally conscious approaches to pest control. Just call Hulett!

Brace Yourself, Termite Season is Upon Us

Termite Season is Upon Us

According to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the southeastern US is bracing for a heavy termite season, as the weather starts to get warmer and spring approaches. The pest control resource pointed to the southeast as a “particularly prevalent place” to encounter these wood-eating “silent destroyers” who can “chew through wood, flooring, and wallpaper without any immediate signs of damage.” The NPMA goes on to say that “termites cause more than $5 billion each year,” adding the kicker that these are “costs typically not covered by homeowners’ insurance.”

The NPMA stresses the importance of homeowners knowing what types of termites are active in their areas and how to prevent them from causing damage to your home. Additionally, noting the importance of trusting your termite suspicions to a pest control professional as opposed to taking on the termite fight yourself, the NPMA throws the spotlight on several types of termites South Florida residents may be dealing with this spring.

Subterranean Termites

The hotter the climate, the more subterranean termites you’re likely to encounter. While extremely common in southern states, South Florida is now under siege, by not only native subterranean termites but also two more aggressive species from southeast Asia, Formosan and Asian subterranean termites. “By far the most destructive termite species,” invasive subterranean termites live in a network of underground nests, populated by up to 2 million members in a colony. Accessing your home from mud tunnels used to transport food, worker class subterranean termites bite off small pieces of wood to feed the expanding throngs of colony members.

Due to their aggressive natures, Formosan subterranean termites can collapse an entire building in a lot less time than drywood termites and native subterranean termites. Formosan termites also infest trees, shrubs, utility poles, timber, railroad trusses and have even been found on boats in the Florida Keys. The average Formosan termite colony can consume a one-foot 2×4 in less than a month.

  • Tell-tale signs of subterranean termite activity
    • Earthen tunnels running from the ground to walls near foundations
    • Earthen tunnels running up trees and utility poles
    • Hollow sounding live trees

Drywood Termites

Drywood termite colonies are much smaller than subterranean colonies, with around 2,500 members. Primarily attacking walls, flooring, and furniture, drywood termite infestations can take a while to discover because these pests live inside the structures they are infesting. Termites usually enter homes through direct ground to wood contact or through water-damaged wood. Because drywood termites can survive with only the water in the wood they eat, they have been found infesting eaves, soffits and other wooden areas on upper stories of homes and other buildings. Drywood termites can be problematic to treat as they can form more than one colony within the same structure.

  • Tell-tale signs of drywood termite activity
    • Signs of swarming indoors
    • Presence of “frass,” piles of sawdust-like pellets, excreted by dry wood termites
    • Hollow sounding floors, walls, and furniture
    • Buckling walls and floors that can resemble water damage

Conehead Termites

Resembling subterranean termites by their habit of building mud tubes, conehead termites, currently confined to Broward County are named for the dark brown, pointy heads of the soldier caste that dispenses a sap-like substance conehead termites spray at predators, such as ants, lizards, and other termites. These hungry and highly destructive pests build free-standing nests on the ground and in structures, as well as in trees. With nests up to 3 feet in diameter, with a hard, chewed wood surface, conehead termites forage on the ground, allowing them to move faster than subterranean termites who can only move wood through tubes underground.

  • Tell-tale signs of conehead termites
    • Dark brown tubes running up trees on the ground or up walls of structures
    • Large, round nests in trees, on the ground or on structures

Termites require professional control protection year round

In South Florida, where termites come with the territory, it is essential to connect with a professional pest control company who has your back against termites. Our 45 years of experience as a leader in South Florida’s pest control community has earned us a ranking as one of the top 20 pest control companies in the US.

Using sustainably responsible baits and the most effective materials and technology, our licensed and certified technicians create a protective boundary around your South Florida home.

Get ready for this spring, with a free in-home termite evaluation and take advantage of Hulett’s $100 off coupon for termite control. Just call Hulett!

Pretty Termites Cause More Damage

South Florida, famous for her stunning array of beaches and picturesque barrier islands just added one more item to her long list of beautiful things: Termites.  If you’re like most folks, you prefer your termites as far away from your home as possible but, yes, according to reporter Brad Buck’s May 16th article, on Phys.org, a University of Florida (UF) study, recently published in Insectes Sociaux introduced the idea that some subterranean termite specimens deemed “pretty” for their symmetrical traits, “are more destructive than their uglier counterparts.”

Symmetrical traits indicate the health and maturity of termite colonies

Conducted by Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center entomologist, Thomas Chovenac and UF/IFAS entomology professor Nan-Yao Su, the research team determined that symmetry in termite traits pointed to the overall health and age of termite colonies. Symmetrical or “pretty” specimens tend, “to come from mature colonies,” with large populations, said Chouvenc, adding, that “so-called ‘ugly’ termites,” with asymmetrical traits, “generally come from young colonies. Such ‘ugly’ termites develop under stressful conditions, are short-lived and not very efficient at maintaining the colony.”

The researchers concluded that the larger and more established termite colonies are, the prettier the members are and the more destructive they can be. “If you have a mature colony with a million termites at 100 percent of their capacity, your house may be in trouble,” Chouvenc said. “If the colony is very young, with just a few hundred termites in poor shape, then it would take more time for them to damage a structure. In the end, mature termite colonies are the ones doing the most economic damage.”

Researchers studied Asian subterranean termites, an aggressive non-native species

Speaking of damage, the research team focused their study on Asian subterranean termites, an invasive species introduced to the South Florida area in the 1990s. Along with South Florida’s other invasive species, Formosan subterranean termites, Asian termites account for a major percentage of the $40 billion-dollar expense caused by termites annually, worldwide.

Asian subterranean termites are voracious eaters, bent on population growth

Invasive subterranean termites forage further than native subterranean species and show more aggressive patterns, eating through plastic, wiring and concrete to get to cellulose, their food source. Because one Asian subterranean termite queen can lay 1,000 eggs a day, Asian colonies can grow very rapidly. Caring for their young, a factor in the development of “pretty” termite reproductives, soldiers and workers, researchers noted that in younger colonies, under more stress than more mature colonies, young termites did not get as much care as in more mature colonies, with more workers to nurture the young.

Asian subterranean colonies, supporting multiple queens, accelerate the formation of new nests within colonies. With multiple queens, Asian termite populations can number in the millions. More workers caring for the young equals more extensive damage to your home, in a shorter period of time than other less organized or aggressive termites.

UF/IFAS study suggests eliminating young colonies

The UF/IFAS study also pointed out that “because young colonies have small numbers of poorly efficient termites, compared to mature colonies, there is an incentive to eliminate such young colonies before they grow too big, to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place.”

Excellent idea except for the fact that most homeowners are unaware that termites are lurking under the ground entering their homes, until significant damage is already underway.

A free termite inspection gets your home and property ready for termite prevention

Starting with a free termite inspection, our entomologist-trained and certified technicians inspect your home and property for signs of termite activity. Subterranean termites burrow through the soil outside your home, building mud foraging tunnels to transport wood from your home to their nests.

Our customized plan stops termites before they can enter your home

Our goal is to intercept termites before they can enter your home, by devising a customized plan and Preventative Termite Treatments that protect your perimeter so it is cut off from termites, ‘pretty’ or otherwise. Year round, our comprehensive termite protection plan safeguards your most expensive investment.

Any current infestation is addressed quickly and Hulett will return to address any termite activity at no extra charge as long as the annual termite bond is kept active.

Hulett Environmental Services has been family owned and operated for 3 generations making us the leading pest control company in South Florida for over 45 years. Contact us today for a free in-home termite inspection!

New Super Soldier Termite

Asian Subterranean Termite
You may have heard of the Formosan “super termite” that has been eating through houses along the Southern U.S. Until recently this termite was thought to be the most destructive in the world. However, Nan-Yoa Su, professor of entomology at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS), has just discovered a new termite ravaging houses in Florida that is even more destructive and terrifying.

This new super soldier termite, known as the Asian subterranean termite, was thought to only live in tropical climates in places such as Brazil and the West Indies. Unfortunately for us Americans, it has just been discovered in Florida, and seems to have a well-established foothold in South Florida. Scientists are puzzled by its rapid spread as they believed it could not survive in areas north of the tropics. The terrifying termite is now considered to be a serious threat to homes in Florida. Infestations have already been found in four buildings in Riviera Beach in South Florida, and officials believe there are probably more buildings infested. Officials are asking people to contact them at the UF/IFAS if they see this termite.

This new destructive termite is considered one of the most destructive pests in the tropics and now the Southern United States. Su, along with assistant professor of entomology Brian Cabrera, is working to track and hopefully stop the advance of this invasive insect.

Officials are asking residents to look out for the winged termites, which may be seen around dusk and in the evening flying around lights. The termite can be identified by its dark brown head and dorsal surface on the top of its body, which stands out in contrast to its yellow-brown underside. The “two-toned” appearance of the termite makes it fairly noticeable when compared to other termites. The termite “soldiers” can be identified by the teardrop shape of their heads and a pore on their body that secretes sticky, milk-like fluid. Officials recommend that any homeowners unsure of whether the termite has infested their homes should immediately contact a pest control professional and have them thoroughly inspect their property.

Thankfully, a successful baiting system has been developed that can control the new Asian subterranean termite. The bait system uses a chemical called noviflumuron, which is a growth regulator that stops termites from being able to molt. Without the ability to molt the worker population of the termites cannot sustain their underground colonies. We’ll beat this bad guy in no time!

Have you ever had a termite infestation in your home? How did you get rid of them?

Signs You May Have Termites

  1. Mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home.
  2. Soft wood in the home that sounds hollow when tapped.
  3. Darkening or blistering of wood structures.
  4. Cracked or bubbling paint.
  5. Small piles of feces that resemble sawdust near a termite nest.
  6. Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills, indicating swarmers have entered the home or swarmers themselves, which are often mistaken for flying ants.

Insects That Decrease Your Home’s Value

Less Bang for Your Buck – Insects That Decrease Your Home’s Value

Insects have become masters of invading our homes. While some are simply a nuisance, others can seriously reduce the value of your home. Whether you’re planning on selling your home anytime soon or not, it’s probably a good idea to keep an eye out for these expensive pests.

Termites are probably the most serious villain when it comes to destroying your property. They cause over $5 billion in property damage throughout the United States every year. What’s worse is that home insurance doesn’t generally cover termite infestations, meaning the money to fix it is going to come straight out of your pocket. Enough termite damage can cause floors and walls to sag because of the loss of structural integrity. And, you don’t want to try and deal with these guys on your own. If you have a termite infestation, immediately call in the professionals to take care of it.

Powderpost beetles are another pest that can seriously harm your home. They are small and black, specializing in boring holes into wood. This means that they will go for anything made of hardwood, including molding, flooring, cabinets, doors and other hardwood furniture. You can detect an infestation by looking for small, round holes in the wood that may have fine sawdust peeking out. These pests tend to infest newer homes. Removing the infested wood is really the only way to eradicate them.

Have you ever had to deal with a termite infestation or powderpost beetles? What did you do to get rid of them?

Are termites geniuses? | Florida Termite Control

Are termites geniuses?

Termites are not something you would typically relate to genius, but recent studies show they may just be more than your average insect.

Termites build their homes without the use of tools like humans have. After all, they only have their bodies, soil and saliva to work with. Setting aside these challenges and limitations how is it possible they have figured out how to ventilate a structure? Something not even humans have fully figured out how to do? Studies on termite mounds show that the structure actually works in a similar fashion to lungs; they inhale and exhale with the changing of the temperature throughout the day. Scientists spent several weeks inspecting termite mounds and discovered that termites build their homes around several chimney like structures allowing for constant ventilation.

Termites take extra care and caution in creating their own homes, but can destroy your home in just a matter of months if they go undetected. Termites can reproduce at alarming rates, and you may think you only have a handful to deal with, if you see one there are probably thousands hiding from you. Call your local pest control company if you believe you might have a termite problem.

For more information on termites, please click here

Termites In Your Home? Here Are 3 Of The Most Important Things You Should Know

Termites In Your Home? Here Are 3 Of The Most Important Things You Should Know

The University of Kentucky has released an informative FAQ article of homeowners on termites.

Here is a low-down on the experts’ answers to homeowners’ most common questions, and we have rounded up three of the most important:

Why worry about termites?

Termites are reported to cause billions of dollars in damages every year. The list of things they can damage are not limited to wood. Aside from posing a serious threat to your home’s structural foundations, termites can also damage books, insulation, papers, important documents, memorabilia, and even pool liners and filtration systems.

How will you know if your home is infested?

When you see mud tubes about the width of a pencil and sometimes wider, extending from your foundations or in other crevices and surfaces of your home, it is most certainly a termite infestation. Termites build these mud tubes for traveling between their underground homes and to new territory. Hollowed-out wood with bits of dried mud or soil lining its galleries is also a sure sign of a termite infestation. Rippled or sunken traces behind wall coverings can also be signs that termites have been tunneling underneath it.

One thing you also have to brush up on is identifying termites from flying ants.

Can I treat a termite infestation myself?

If a termite infestation happens to a small, uncomplicated structure isolated from your house, such as a mailbox, a sandbox, or your dog’s kennel, for example, then it is possible a DIY measure can help. But if you’re going to be exterminating an infestation that has burrowed deep into your home — which is a much more complicated structure, then you will certainly need the expertise and on-hand equipment range of pest control professionals. Attempting a DIY termite extermination project can only result in creating even more damage to your home.

 

 

 

How Termites Communicate

Termites normally keep to themselves, working on building a colony. They don’t really focus on starting fights with other neighbors. But when danger approaches, these termites only do one thing – bang their heads on the walls.

How Termites Communicate

Slamming your head against a wall may not seem very helpful, but it’s actually the vibrations that the banging does which alerts the rest of the colony. The noise travels downwards throughout the tunnels at approximately 430 feet per second, meaning that an average 3 foot tall mound would be alerted almost immediately. Termites ‘hear’ these vibrations through their legs. The leg closest to the vibration picks up the sound first, and the farthest leg picks up the noise last. It was found that termites were able to tell which leg felt the vibration first, which allowed them to learn which direction to head to.

Scientists began to wonder exactly how short the gap could be for termites to feel the vibration in between their legs. The answer? 0.20 milliseconds. In literally less than a blink of an eye, termites were able to decipher which way they should be heading – whether it be to battle, or to hide. Soldier termites would immediately head towards the vibrations in order to protect their horde, while worker termites would begin to retreat back down into their cave system in order to protect themselves. When all is said and done, the remaining termites either go back to working on their nest, or begin constructing a new mound, had they lost the battle.

Article: https://student.societyforscience.org/article/how-termites-%E2%80%98hear%E2%80%98-about-trouble

How to Deal with Foundation Damage Caused by Termites

Tips on how to avoid foundation damage caused by termitesBy  the time you find out that you have termites, there is a chance that they will have already caused extensive damage to the structure (and substructure) of your home. Here is how to deal with all of the damage those pests can cause.

First: Learn to Recognize the Signs

There are a few signs that termites might have set up shop in your home. Swarming is the most common. This is where you start to see termites in your home. The most common place to find them is by the windows—either lying on the sill from having flown into the window itself trying to get out of the house or on the window’s drapery.

You might also find shelter tubes that the termites have built. They build them in open areas so you shouldn’t have to hunt for them. If you find what looks like water damage, search for signs of dirt. Termites will usually bring with them and drop bits of dirt into the wood they’re invading.

Next: Figure Out What Type of Termite You’re Dealing With

The easiest way to do this is to trap a couple of the termites you’ve found. If you see a termite or two in your home, put a clear glass or other similar transparent container over it so that you can lean in for a closer look without having to worry that it will take flight at you (or away). You can use our earlier article to figure out what you’ve captured.

Call a Professional

Unlike some other pests, termites are not something you can combat or conquer on your own. These pests get into and destroy the structure of your home. It is important to call an exterminator or pest control expert for help in figuring out not just how much damage the termites have done but how to deal with the infestation. The good news is that most pest control experts will give you a free inspection.

Dealing with the Aftermath

It isn’t just possible that termites have done damage to the structural integrity of your house, it’s probable. As soon as you’ve “fixed” the infestation, you’re going to want to get a contractor or structural engineer out to inspect your house for damage. If you’re lucky, the damage will only be on the “superficial” structure of your home. If the damage is in the supporting beams and joists, you’re looking at a much bigger problem.

Make Repairs a Priority

Repairing termite damage is going to be expensive. There’s no way around that. How expensive it is depends upon the damage that was done. One thing is for sure, though, the repairs can’t wait—especially if you ever want to be able to sell your house. Remember, tenting isn’t always 100% permanently effective and all it takes is a few of those pests to survive for a real threat to be posed to the structural stability of your home. Get rid of any wood that might have been affected by the termites you just got rid of and replace it with new ones.

Future Prevention is Also Important

In addition to repairing the damage that has already been done, it is important that you work hard to prevent more damage from occurring in the future. Luckily, there are things that you can do to help discourage termites and keep them from infesting your home. You can find a list of ways to prevent a termite infestation here.

The fact is that termites are everywhere. There is no part of the country that is safe from these pests. The good news is that you don’t have to resign yourself to their presence. Use these tips to help you overcome and recover from a termite infestation.