Subterranean Termites can be found in almost every state of the US, Mexico, and parts of Canada. Florida’s climate makes it especially vulnerable to termites. They are found throughout the state with coastal and Southern areas having the highest occurrence of infestation.
The two types of termites that are most predominant in Florida are:
1 subterranean termites-which live in the soil and attack structures from the ground up. Subterraneans must nest in the soil or near a water source to survive. A Subterranean Termite colony is extremely large. It consists of the queen, winged reproductive swarmers, soldiers, and workers. The workers are small, creamy white, and what you will most likely see if you break a mud tube.
2 drywood termites– which infest dry wood and do not require contact with the soil. They can live in the wood of a building and can go undetected until they cause extensive, visible damage. Licensed pest management professionals have the expertise to inspect buildings and treat them to prevent an infestation or provide treatment when the insects are found. Termite companies are now required to clearly tell customers if their contract covers both types of termites. Most quality home inspectors will be the first to admit they don’t inspect for termites, but if they see signs of them they will point them out.
Signs of infestation include:
- Winged insects emerging at night attracted to lights (winged termites can be distinguished from winged ants by their thick waist, straight antennae, and equal length wings–winged ants have thin waists, elbowed antennae and shorter hind wings)
- Discarded wings accumulating around window sills or in spider webs
- Wooden pellet (1-2mm long and 6 sided) accumulation on floors or under furniture . Pellets usually fall into piles as the termites push them out of the infested wood.
- Surface blisters- a papery rustling sound when touched indicates tunnels just beneath the surface. Infested areas will have a hollow sound when tapped with a screwdriver handle.
- Late Spring and Summer months are the peak seasons for winged termite swarming
Steps consumers can take to protect their homes:
- Remove wood piles, landscaping mulch, firewood, planter boxes and scrap lumber from under and next to their homes
- Maintain 8″ of clearance between the soil and siding
- Promptly repair any moisture leaks or problems in or to the home
- Divert irrigation sprinklers away from exterior walls and foundation
- Direct water sources, such as air conditioner drip lines and roof downspouts, away from the structure foundation
- When purchasing homes, carefully check the termite protection history of the home.
- Have an annual inspection of their homes by a licensed professional pest control company
- Obtain a termite protection contract and renew it annually.
According to the National Pest Management Association, termites do more damage than fires, storms, and earthquakes combined!
Costs and treatments can vary greatly. Be wary of very low prices you may get what you pay for, but not what you expect to get.
To find a qualified termite inspector in you area contact the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control at http://www.floridatermitehelp.org/ or phone 850-921-4177
Jim Goodbrad is the owner of Affordable Home Inspections in Bradenton, Florida. Jim is a licensed building contractor in Florida and a certified inspector with both NAHI and ASHI. He has over 12 years of experience inspecting homes, and performs resale inspections, construction progress, 4 point and wind mitigation inspections. For a thorough inspection at an affordable price Call 941-741-9733 for your next home inspection.