With its hot, humid climate, Florida is a great place for tourists to visit. The qualities that make Florida attractive to residents and visitors also make it a great home for termites. Just thinking about termites strikes fear into the hearts of Florida homeowners, so knowing how to tell if your house has termites will either calm your fears, or let you know what steps to take to get rid of them.
The welcoming Florida climate hosts four main groups of termites:
- Subterranean termites that need an environment that is moist.
- Dampwood termites that prefer water-saturated wood.
- Drywood termites that require little moisture to survive.
- Invasive Conehead termites that have been found in Broward County.
Termite entry points
So how do these unwelcome visitors enter into your home? In some instances, subterranean termites enter your home when they are foraging for food. Most of the subterranean termite colony is tasked with looking for food for themselves and their colony. They often travel hundreds of feet to find the cellulose material they need to take back to their nests. Considering the size of termites, this is an incredible distance. If in their travels they stumble upon the wood in your home, they will begin devouring as much of it as they can.
Another way termites can infest your house is by swarming. In order to reproduce, winged termites known as swarmers leave the colony to start a new colony somewhere else. Different species of termites swarm at different times of the year, so it is possible that you would see swarms year-round. However, the majority of species swarm in the spring and summer. For example, Native subterranean termites swarm during hot, humid spring afternoons, while the Formosan subterranean termite begins swarming in the spring and sometimes continues to swarm into the summer. Flights can consist of tens of thousands of swarmers and usually occur in the evening.
Before we get into termite infestation signs, here’s a quick look at the types of termites that could cause damage to your house.
These little beasties are very common in Florida, both the native, Asian, and Formosan ones. Formosan and Asian termites are often referred to as “super termites,” as they are more aggressive, voracious, and devious than any other termite known to man. They are an invasive species that have been transported throughout the world from their native range in southern China, Taiwan (formerly called Formosa), and Japan. Asian termites are an invasive species from Southeast Asia.
Both of these subterranean termites live in the soil and create mud tubes as they look for food above the surface of the soil. The food could be a fallen log, a scrap of wood, or even your home. Because of this, it’s important to make sure you are protected from the voracious pests with bait or monitoring stations before they damage one of your most important investments. Hulett Environmental Services is certified to offer the Sentricon baiting system, a state of the art baiting system for subterranean termites. Hulett Environmental Services recommends the Sentricon baiting system for subterranean termites because it is effective and an environmentally friendly solution to termite control.
These little buggers need no soil to survive, they inhabit sound wood, and have even been known to nest in furniture made of wood. They infest homes by swarming during hot summer nights from a nearby infested structure. Thus, there are preventative wood treatments available to protect against infestation. Inspection for signs of infestation is critical in order for early detection to treat locally with a tentless method, otherwise tent fumigation may be your only option.
You are least likely to see dampwood termites infesting homes, as they are not considered a significant threat. They require so much constant moisture that infestations are very rare.
First seen in the early 2000’s in Broward County, an eradication program has been put in place to keep this pest under control. Because it is limited to south Florida, it is not considered a statewide pest. A newly established colony will remain hidden for years, but eventually visible nests will be constructed above ground in trees. They will consume pretty much anything that contains cellulose.
Signs of termites
If you notice a large number of swarmer wings in your home during the spring and summer months, you may have a termite problem. The wings will be inside and around the windowsills, in light fixtures, and other similar places. However, there are also more subtle signs of termite activity.
Identifying termites by their signs
You can see signs of subterranean termites by the mud tubes they build, or dirt build-up in places where it shouldn’t be, such as baseboards, windowsills, and inside walls. These termites tunnel in and feast on wood, so look for buckling, warped, or hollow-sounding wood. If you probe these areas, you may break into their tunnel and expose dirt material and maybe even the termites themselves.
Drywood termites colonize anywhere there is dry wood, including furniture or inside the walls. One of the first signs of their presence are their tiny droppings. They often create “kick-out” holes to get rid of their fecal matter. If you see small holes in the walls or furniture, test the area and knock lightly to see if this fecal matter falls out of the hole. In addition, check regularly to see if additional droppings appear after you’ve cleaned them up. If they do reappear, you may have a colony that is active, especially if your home has never been treated for termite infestation.
Getting rid of an infestation
With termites, prevention is key. The easiest way to avoid a termite infestation is to protect your house and to keep termites from becoming a problem. If your home does become infested, a proper termite inspection to identify which type of termite is infesting, and severity, will help determine which treatment option is more suitable. Contact us today to talk to an expert and schedule a free inspection of your home.