Termites in Florida
Types of Florida Termites
While termites are nature’s way of helping wood decompose, they are also a financial burden when they consume the wood in homes and businesses. Residents who suspect they have a termite infestation should immediately contact the Orkin termite specialists and request an inspection.
In Florida, eastern subterranean termites are generally more widespread, while Formosan termites are more destructive. One of the reasons for this is the size of their colonies, which can reach millions of termites.
The pests also produce secondary colonies that can survive almost anywhere there’s moisture, such as around plumbing leaks or other sources of damp wood. Therefore, Formosan termites are often able to destroy homes in a matter of months.
Other important termites found in Florida are drywood and dampwood termites. As their name would imply, dampwood termites typically infest wood that is moist from water leaks or in contact with soil. However, dampwood termites do not live and forage in the soil like subterranean termites.
Wood in contact with the ground, wood around leaks in the roof, wood siding, and wood that shows evidence of fungal decay are all conducive to infestations.
Florida’s dampwood termites are frequently found in the subtropical woodlands, mangrove forests, and urban settings of the state. An interesting characteristic of dampwood termites is their attraction to lights that are left on at night.
Drywood termites, often called powderpost termites, prefer wood that is dry. One of the most common indicators of an infestation is the piles of fecal pellets that accumulate below the wood upon which they are feeding. These fecal pellets resemble grains of sand.
Unlike subterranean termites, colonies of drywood termites develop and grow slowly, sometimes taking five years or more to reach maturity. Even when conditions are conducive to colony growth, the pests reproduce slowly.
Unfortunately, the most effective methods of getting rid of drywood termite infestations are whole or partial fumigation, heat treatments, or injections of control products into damaged wood.
When Do Termites Swarm in Florida?
Because Florida is warm and humid, different termite species swarm throughout the year. The swarming habits of the most common species in Florida are described below.
- The eastern subterranean termite swarms in daylight between October and February. (In other states, this species swarms from February to May.)
- The dark southeastern subterranean termite usually swarms in daylight between March and June.
- The light southeastern subterranean termite swarms in daylight from December to April.
- The Formosan termite swarms at night during the late spring.
- The tropical rough-headed drywood termite swarms at night, from April through July.
- The tropical smooth-headed drywood termite can swarm any time of the year. Most colonies swarm in the afternoon between March and May.
- The western drywood termite has been identified during the day along both coasts in Florida. Swarms have been reported for every month in Florida, except December.
- The southeastern drywood termite swarms at night, typically in the spring.
- All three Florida dampwood termite species swarm at dusk or at night. Neotermes castaneus tends to swarm in the late fall or early winter. The other two Neotermes species swarm in the late spring or summer.
More Information about Termites in Florida
According to Termite Infestation Probability Zones (TIP Zones), Florida is located in TIP Zone #1 (very heavy), which means the potential for termite damage is considered significant. Areas with higher probabilities for termite activity require more termite control measures to meet International Residential Code building standards for new homes than areas with less frequent activity.
The tropical rough-headed drywood termite (Cryptotermes brevis) is one of the most destructive drywood termite species in the U.S. Key West, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, St. Petersburg and Tampa all have heavy populations of this species. This termite is sometimes called the West Indian drywood termite.
In states like Florida where termites are very active and widespread, it is essential to maintain an effective termite prevention and control program. If you own a home in Florida, talk to your termite control expert about methods to help protect your home from termite infestations and damage.