Florida is home to several kinds of termites that can cause damage, including subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. Some termites, known as swarmers, develop wings in order to fly to sites where they can establish new colonies. Because the various species swarm at different times, these pests can be seen almost any time of year.
If you’ve seen signs of swarming termites, here’s what you need to know.
Termite swarming habits
Our area’s humid climate offers the perfect environment for swarming termites. These are a few of the common types of drywood and subterranean termites and when you’re likely to see them in Florida.
Southeastern drywood termites are usually seen from May to November between dusk and dawn. This is the most widely distributed termite in the eastern U.S., particularly in the coastal regions of the southeast. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites live entirely within the wood they infest, even getting their water from the wood’s fiber.
Over a period of a few weeks each year, some of the drywood termites in a colony molt into winged swarmers and leave the colony to seek sites for new colonies. You may see them attracted to lights around the outside of your house.
These termites will infest softwoods and solid hardwoods, including types of lumbers commonly used in structural framing. Even structures that are only a few years old may become infested. Drywood termites leave behind “frass” – or debris pellets of termite fecal matter that look like coffee grounds or pepper in most cases.
Formosan subterranean termites appear in late spring and swarm at night. This non-native termite was discovered hundreds of years ago, but wasn’t seen in the U.S. until the 1960s when it was found in South Carolina, Louisiana and Texas. Today, most southern states are home to Formosan termites.
These pests usually enter structures from the ground, coming in through the slab via cracks, utility pipes and expansion joints. Although a Formosan subterranean termite doesn’t eat more wood than a native subterranean termite, the Formosan’s sheer numbers — perhaps several million in a single colony compared to several hundred thousand in a non-native colony — make it a very serious threat to property. It’s so serious, in fact, that the City of Jacksonville, Florida, created a task force to develop a plan for tracking and reducing Formosan termite populations that threaten trees and building’s in one of the city’s most historic neighborhoods. Turner Pest Control is on this task force, contributing our expertise on exterminating and controlling these destructive pests.
Eastern subterranean termites are seen in fall and winter in daylight hours. There are three different species of Eastern subterranean termites in Florida and each swarms at different times between early December and late May. Two of the species swarm after daytime rains and the third swarms at night. As with other types of swarming termites, Eastern subterranean termites drop to the ground, shedding their wings after a brief flight, then search for a new nesting site. These flights may be the only clue to their presence.
West Indian drywood termites are often found between April and July. This is a non-native termite and the most widespread drywood termite throughout tropical regions. In the U.S., they are common in Florida and some parts of the southeastern coastal region. Their habits are very similar to the Southeastern drywood termite described above.
Signs of swarming termites
Since they’re sometimes attracted to light, you may see swarmers outdoors near windowsills, light fixtures and doors. The termites themselves may be visible, or you’ll see the wings they’ve discarded before they moved into the location of the new colony. Because drywood termites stay hidden within wood, the wings may be the only sign of them.
A single type of pest control method won’t be effective on all kinds of termites, so it’s important to consult with a pest control professional to verify the kind of termite you may have and develop the right treatment plan. If you haven’t seen signs of termites, pretreatment is the best way to avoid an infestation of these common Florida pests.
Turner Pest Control offers safe and effective options for termite treatment, including the Termidor HP High Precision Injection System, an advanced method for treating your home with very little disruption to your landscaping, patios and pool decks. Contact us to learn more about our comprehensive termite treatment programs.