For Florida residents, termites are constantly in the news. A recent UF/IFAS study predicted that if Florida continued on the same trajectory it has since 1990, termites are on track to infest at least half of the structures in the area by 2040. Homeowners in the Florida area are especially vulnerable to termites entering their homes, due to at least six species of termites that flourish in our tropical environment. Among these destructive pests, two aggressive invasive species, Asian subterranean termites and Formosan subterranean termites lead the pack in damaging structures worldwide, ringing up a whopping $32 billion annually. Also, termite damage, in general, isn't covered under most homeowners' insurance policies. Even more problematic is the fact that most homeowners may not be aware of termites entering their homes until damage has already occurred. If you're like most homeowners, you may not even know what a termite looks like until they've ravaged parts of your home. Measures to protect against termite invasions into Florida structures take the form of everything from preventive construction treatments to annual termite protection programs offered by area pest control professionals. Our termite spotlight shines a light on several of the usual suspects to be on the lookout for in your Florida home.
These wood eating menaces get a lot of attention
Drywood termites need no more water than what they can extract from their food to survive indoors. Drywood termites live inside the wood they infest and hollow it out. Signs of drywood termite activity include:
- Blistered or buckling walls
- Wood that sounds hollow when tapped
- Floors that appear warped or water damaged
- Piles of "frass" or barrel-shaped sawdust
- Swarming inside your home
- Discarded wings near windows
- Unstable fixtures and ceramic tile in bathrooms
Identifying Drywood termites
Several types of drywood termites infest Florida homes. West Indian drywood termites are smaller than southeastern drywood termites at 3/8" long and are prone to attacking furniture. Referred to as "powder post termites," the "frass" these termites kick out of the wood they're infesting appears fine, like a powder. Powder post alates are medium brown in color with translucent wings and swarm between April and July. Powder post soldiers are easily identified by their dark heads that resemble burnt matches.
Formosan subterranean termites & Asian subterranean termites
Here are some highlights regarding Formosan subterranean termites and Asian subterranean termites:
- Exist in colonies with numbers that run into the millions
- Can forage for food up to 328 feet per day
- Live in a network of nests beneath the soil surrounding your home
- In order to feed the vast number of mouths that make up these colonies, Formosan and Asian subterranean termites burrow through the soil to your home, building mud tunnels that act as transport routes between your home and their nests
- Will eat anything that resembles wood, even utility poles, live trees, and boats
- Asian subterranean termites will eat through plastic to get to wood
- Soldiers outnumber workers 9 to 1
- Soldiers have teardrop shaped heads with fontanelles that secrete a sticky substance used as a defense mechanism
Identifying Formosan and Asian subterranean termites
Formosan subterranean termite workers measure about 1/8" and appear cream-colored. Soldiers with powerful mandibles and teardrop shaped elongated heads measure about 1/2". Alates range from black to brown with wings and swarm from April to July beginning at dusk on humid and calm evenings. These reproductives are future kings and queens of their own colonies. Asian subterranean termite soldiers are very similar in appearance to their cousins except that they appear dark brown with a slightly less pointed head than Formosan termites. Aggressive, with strong mandibles, Asian soldiers have been known to bite when threatened, earning them the reputation as "super soldiers." Asian alates, slightly smaller than Formosan alates, at about 1/2" with dark brown heads, swarm from February to April.
Swarming of invasive subterranean termite alates is more intense than the indigenous species
The nuptial flight or swarming of invasive subterranean termites can be much more intense than with indigenous species, covering areas in clouds of reproductives. While this may alarm those witnessing these dense swarms, the real alarming thing is that when alates swarm, their goal is to find a mate and start new colonies. Termites can squeeze into cracks in wood, settle down and start a family - and you may not realize it until several seasons later when the damage is well underway. Florida homeowners know that termites present a real threat to their properties as well as their peace of mind. Protecting your most valuable asset means arming your home with the most effective termite prevention available. Hulett's Total Termite Protection Plan guarantees your satisfaction. Get prepared for this season's termite invasion. Don't be a Florida statistic; get termite protection with a great warranty. Just call Hulett!