Owning property in South Florida comes with risks. We face the threat of tropical storms, tropical depressions, hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, floods, and more. If all that isn’t enough, we have to deal with the most destructive termites in the United States. When it comes to destructive capability, subterranean termites are head and shoulders above all other termites. Annual drywood termite damage in the U.S. is in the hundreds of millions. Damage done by subterranean termites is in the billions. And Formosan termites are responsible for the largest portion of that damage. The last thing any Florida homeowner needs is an infestation of these wood-destroying insects. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can protect your property.
Between April and July, we see the most subterranean termite swarms. For this reason, it is usually called swarming season. Understanding this season is the first step in protecting property from termite damage.
What are swarmers?
These are male and female reproductive termites that are produced by a mature colony for the purpose of establishing new colonies. These termites are usually the only termites we ever see. All other termites remain in the ground or inside the wood they feed on because they die when they dry out.
What do swarmers look like?
Termite swarmers are brown to black, depending on the species. They are only around 3/8 of an inch in length, so they should never be confused with carpenter ant swarmers, which can be as long as an inch. Termite swarmers also have long white wings with rounded tips to help us easily distinguish them from other insects.
What are swarmers attracted to?
While termite swarmers don’t require moisture to survive (like other termites do) they are attracted to moist areas. Remember, their goal is to find a suitable location to establish a new colony. The offspring they will produce are going to need both moisture and food. When you control moisture and food sources on your property, you make it less interesting to these destructive pests.
Moisture Control Tips
- Reduce shade. If you have areas that are well shaded, it can produce the conditions for moisture that will be attractive to subterranean termites. Trim trees and other foliage to allow sunlight to get into trouble areas.
- Loosen soil. When soil gets compacted, it can allow water to pool. This will make it harder for the sun to dry water up in your yard. Aeration can loosen the soil and give rainwater a way to soak in.
- Leaks. When outside spigots or hoses leak, it can lead to moisture problems.
- Gutter system problems. If a gutter system clogs or develops a break, it can allow water to run down the side of a structure and make the foundation perimeter moist. This can create many problems besides attracting termites. It is important that gutters and downspouts channel water away from exterior walls.
Control Of Termite Food Sources
While there isn’t a lot you can do about the wood in your home, there are other sources of wood in your yard that may make your property more attractive to swarmers as they search for a suitable location to establish their nest. Here are a few:
- Termites are drawn to decaying wood. If you use wood to surround a flowerbed, that wood will be an attractant. Consider using stones for your landscaping needs.
- Mulch is often a prime location for swarmer activity. Not only is mulch a food source, it is usually kept damp because it is around plants that require watering. Replacing mulch with crushed stone can reduce the risk of infestation.
- Swarmers will target soil around rotting trees and logs. If you have these on the edge of your property an infestation can take root there and the same colony that consumes that rotting tree or log will also be feeding on your home.
While controlling termite attractants can reduce risk, it isn’t enough to keep a home from being damaged by termites. Through every season, every home in South Florida should have a system in place to easily detect termites when they attack from the ground. For more information or to establish termite service reach out to Nozzle Nolen for immediate assistance.