Benjamin Hottel, Guest columnist Published 2:01 p.m. ET April 18, 2019
Eastern subterranean termite alates on the left and Formosan subterranean termite alate on the right.(Photo: Ben Hottel)
After a few months of cool weather during the winter months, springtime in Tallahassee can be a pleasant time to enjoy the outdoors before the hot and humid summer months arrive.
Even the honey bees are starting to enjoy the nice weather as they are starting to pollinate all of the pretty flowers blooming throughout the city. Unfortunately, there is another insect that is also starting to become active in Tallahassee, the Formosan subterranean termite.
In general, many species of subterranean termites are naturally found in the soil of forests where they feed on fallen trees. To these termites, our wooden houses are a buffet of fallen trees ready to be feasted upon. Subterranean termites cause an estimated $5 billion in damages and repair costs each year in the United States.
Ben Hottel(Photo: Leon County Extension)
These insects work together in colonies like honeybees, do but instead of getting nectar and pollen, they feed on wood. Wood seems a lot less appetizing than feeding on nectar and honey. Like honey bees who have a queen bee and workers, termites have a queen that produces all of the babies and workers to take care of the colony. Unlike honeybees, there are also specialized workers called soldiers who defend the colony from intruders.
Formosan subterranean termites are originally from China and were introduced into the United States in the 1960s. They have been established in Florida since the 1980s. Native species of subterranean termites, such as the Eastern subterranean termite, can cause damage to homes, but the Formosan termites can cause damage much more quickly than these native species.
The Formosan termites have larger colonies and are much more aggressive. If these termites are not eradicated from an infested house, they can destroy the entire house. There have been buildings in Tallahassee and in other areas of Florida that have been demolished because of extensive infestations of Formosan subterranean termites.
There are a few different signs of the presence of subterranean termites in a building. One of the signs that a building has an infestation of termites is the presence of mud tubes running along walls or other support structures in a home.
Subterranean termites like to live in moist environments like the soil and will construct mud tubes wherever they go so that they are constantly in a humid environment. Mud tubes can be found in crawl spaces under the home or even in the interior areas throughout the home. Sometimes mud tubes are hidden inside walls where they are not easily visible.
Because mud tubes are not always easily visible, the termite colony is sometimes able to grow to a large enough size before it is detected. The next sign of termite activity in a home happens when a colony has become mature enough to produce special termites with wings that will potentially become new queens and kings. These special winged termites are called alates. When conditions are right, these alates will swarm out of the colony and try to fly to a new area to start another termite colony. If these termites are from a colony that is in a home, they will swarm inside a house.
It can be pretty surprising to wake up one morning to find hundreds of alates flying inside your home. Once these alates mate, they will clip off their wings before trying to make a new colony. Sometimes you might not notice the alates flying around in your home but will find piles of wings by the window or in other areas of the house where the termites were flying.
Different species of subterranean termites swarm at different times of the year. Native species, such as the Eastern subterranean termites, swarm at the beginning of the year, but Formosan termites will start to swarm in mid-April and will stop swarming at some point in July. Formosan termites are unique from native termite species in that they will swarm at dusk and are attracted to lights.
Homeowners will occasionally leave their garage door open with lights on inside and attract these alates into their garages. The presence of Formosan termites in a garage doesnt necessarily mean your house is infested, but that the termites were attracted into your garage from a neighboring area.
If you discover that you have any of these signs of Formosan or other subterranean termites in your house, it is important that you contact a licensed pest control company to get your house treated. As a special note, many pest control companies in the Southeast United States are starting to not do termite treatments on homes that have spray foam insulation. This spray foam insulation can make your home more difficult to inspect for termite activity and the foam can absorb moisture which termites love.
If you would like to prevent your home from future termite invasions, there are a variety of options that a licensed pest control company can offer. Some companies will even offer contracts to pay for any damage termites cause to your home after a treatment has been performed.
Make sure to read all termite treatment contracts carefully so that your expectations are in line with what the pest control company is offering. Not all contracts will cover damages from Formosan termites. Usually native termite species are covered if they cause future damage in homes.
While all termites play an important role in recycling nutrients of dead trees back into the soil, this natural recycling process isnt welcomed when it also involves our homes. Being proactive in protecting your home from termites can help preserve your home over the course of ownership.
Benjamin Hottel is an Assistant Professor of Urban Entomology at Florida A&M University and is a volunteer writer for UF/IFAS Extension Leon County, an Equal Opportunity Institution. For gardening questions, email the extension office at AskAMasterGardener@ifas.ufl.edu.
- Bastrop residents express frustration over Hurricane Laura debris pile; City is waiting to be approved by FEMA - KTVE - myarklamiss.com - September 25th, 2020
- How Covid-19 Will Reshape Termite Bait Systems Market : Competitive Outlook By 2026 The Dow Chemical Company, Basf Se, Bayer Ag, Sumitomo Chemical Co.... - September 25th, 2020
- Mysterious Circles in The Desert Explained by Alan Turing Theory From 70 Years Ago - ScienceAlert - September 25th, 2020
- Cheap plastic is flooding developing countries were making new biodegradable materials to help - The Conversation UK - September 22nd, 2020
- Today's Rental was chosen because I was trying to remember if I had ever heard the neighborhood referred to as "SoFlo" - PoPville - September 22nd, 2020
- Termite Bait Systems Market Analysis With Key Players, Applications, Trends And Forecasts 2026 The Dow Chemical Company, Basf Se, Bayer Ag, Sumitomo... - September 21st, 2020
- The Oxford Group welcomes another Brazilian company in Boca Raton - The Boca Raton Tribune - September 21st, 2020
- The River: Save the Delta Queen keeping beloved steamboat from termites, slackers, and extinction - User-generated content - September 20th, 2020
- Explore life below the surface - GREAT BEND TRIBUNE - Great Bend Tribune - September 20th, 2020
- Fiber Cement Siding: Worth the Investment? - MSN Money - September 20th, 2020
- As world falls behind on UN wildlife targets, bright spots offer hope - The Jakarta Post - Jakarta Post - September 16th, 2020
- Rogers loves that red hobbit door has become such an attraction - Valley Breeze - September 16th, 2020
- Termite Control Services Market Poised to Expand at a Robust Pace Over 2017 to 2026 - The Market Chronicles - September 16th, 2020
- Cube One Is the Next-Gen Tiny House: Smart, Green and Incredibly Cheap - autoevolution - September 16th, 2020
- Cities like Lagos need building designs that don't just copy global styles - The Conversation CA - September 13th, 2020
- Termite Control Market is Thriving Worldwide 2020 | Trends, Growth and Profit Analysis, Forecast by 2027 - The Daily Chronicle - September 10th, 2020
- Key End-use Industries to Surge Sales of Termite Control Services Market During the COVID-19 pandemic - The Daily Chronicle - September 10th, 2020
- Insect Biodiversity Center to promote insect conservation, healthy ecosystems - ScienceBlog.com - September 10th, 2020
- Learning about possum on the half shell | Voices | republic-online.com - Miami County Republic - September 10th, 2020
- Property Clinic: What is causing creaky floorboards in my house? - The Irish Times - September 8th, 2020
- Outlook on the Termite Control Products and Services Market to 2025 by Application, End-user and Geography - Express Journal - September 7th, 2020
- Viance agreement will supply UltraPole NXT treated poles to utilities - LBM Journal - September 5th, 2020
- Ants and humans have shaped each others destinies - The Economist - September 4th, 2020
- She studies fish that look like zebras and rats to better understand the ocean's ecology - News@Northeastern - September 2nd, 2020
- Nature Notes: Chimney swifts dine on the nastiest of bugs - theday.com - September 2nd, 2020
- Outdoor Cabinetry Open to Southern Cypress Building-Products - Building-Products.com - September 2nd, 2020
- How to get the upper body of a burrowing frog - Science Codex - September 2nd, 2020
- Jeffrey Allen Etheridge - The Wilson Times - September 1st, 2020
- Termite Control Products Market Business Opportunity, Segmentation, Industry Overview and Forecast Till 2027 - Bulletin Line - August 31st, 2020
- Curtis Honeycutt: The Grammar Guy | The rules of et cetera - Brattleboro Reformer - August 31st, 2020
- An affordable home that can withstand a category 5 hurricane? This builder says he has the answer - yoursun.com - August 30th, 2020
- Grammar Guy: The rules of et cetera - Herald and News - August 30th, 2020
- Termite Control Market Research Report | Know more about the Global trends and Applications By 2024 - The Daily Chronicle - August 29th, 2020
- Global Termite Bait Systems Market 2020 SWOT Analysis & Key Business Strategies by Leading Industry Players and Forecast 2026 - Good Night, Good... - August 29th, 2020
- Global and US Termite Treatment Chemical Products Market to Witness Huge Growth by 2027 key Companies included in report Bifen I/T, Essentria,... - August 29th, 2020
- Why Do Paliyar Tribals Leave Their Homes And Build New Ones During Termite Infestation? - Youth Ki Awaaz - August 29th, 2020
- The Bold and the Beautiful's Tanner Novlan Sends a Swoon-Worthy Birthday Message to His Wife - Soaps.com - August 29th, 2020
- Termite Control Products and Services Market with Future Prospects, Key Player SWOT Analysis and Forecast To 2025 - Express Journal - August 29th, 2020
- A chiral surprise in the rainforest - Science Codex - August 29th, 2020
- Termite Control Products Market to Flourish with an Impressive Cagr During 2020-2026 - Owned - August 29th, 2020
- Impact of Outbreak of COVID-19 on Edible Insects Market : Changing Strategies To Provide Competitive Edge till 2024 - Scientect - August 29th, 2020
- Termite Control Market Growth, Industry In Depth Research, Advancements, Statistics, Facts and Figures by Forecast 2028 - StartupNG - August 26th, 2020
- Clarksville resident works to improve her neighborhood - Clarksville Now - August 26th, 2020
- Harry J. Cynkus Elected to the Rollins, Inc. Board of Directors - PRNewswire - August 26th, 2020
- Multiple Benefits Suggest Steel Constructions Time Has Arrived - Forbes - August 25th, 2020
- Fresh take: The rules of et cetera, Latin term that means 'and the rest' Grammar Guy - yoursun.com - August 25th, 2020
- Effective Ways of Controlling Termites - South Florida Reporter - August 24th, 2020
- Termite Control System Market 2020 Global analysis, opportunities and forecast to 2026 | By Top Leading Vendors like Dowdupont, BASF, Bayer, Sumitomo... - August 24th, 2020
- Around the House: Carpenter ants a nuisance, but not threat like termites - Colorado Springs Gazette - August 24th, 2020
- Termite Control Market Size 2020 Industry Growth, Future Trends, Business Opportunities, Emerging Technologies, Competitive Landscape, Sales Revenue... - August 24th, 2020
- How abandoned mines, like the Gold King, threaten the Wests drinking water - Deseret News - August 24th, 2020
- Digging Deep: The Secrets Within Termite Nests - Entomology Today - August 20th, 2020
- The evolution of chimp skills - Cosmos - August 20th, 2020
- Pest Control Market : Projection of Each Major Segment over the Forecast Period COVID-19 2026 - Scientect - August 20th, 2020
- Acceleration of the Social Gap in Iran Is Like a Train Heading Towards a Social Explosion - Iran Focus - August 20th, 2020
- Preserving your home's "good bones" | Home protection tips with HGTV's Mina Starsiak Hawk - CBS News 8 - August 19th, 2020
- Houses are influencers now, and this one burned to the ground - The Verge - August 19th, 2020
- Tiny elephant shrew species documented in Horn of Africa for first time in nearly 50 years - SCNow - August 19th, 2020
- COLUMN: News-Times 'pours it on' with Vernon Thompson eulogy - Carolinacoastonline - August 19th, 2020
- Tiny elephant shrew species documented in Horn of Africa for first time in nearly 50 years - Martinsville Bulletin - August 18th, 2020
- Termite-fishing chimpanzees provide clues to the evolution of technology - University of Miami - August 18th, 2020
- How to Get Rid of Flying Ants in Your Home, According to Pest Experts - Prevention.com - August 18th, 2020
- Termite Control Market Size and Growth By Leading Vendors, By Types and Application, By End Users and Forecast to 2027 - Bulletin Line - August 18th, 2020
- In the World's Toughest Race, Bear Grylls is the gift that just keeps on going - The Spinoff - August 15th, 2020
- Termite Control Market Size by Top Companies, Regions, Types and Application, End Users and Forecast to 2027 - Bulletin Line - August 15th, 2020
- Termite Control System Market Report, History And Forecast 2020-2025, Breakdown Data By Manufacturers, Key Regions, Types And Application - The Daily... - August 13th, 2020
- Check Out the Innovative Winners of LACMA's Art + Technology Grant - Hyperallergic - August 13th, 2020
- Peter Okoye enjoys a meal of termites, reveals other insects he loves eating - Legit - August 12th, 2020
- Cameroon cancels logging plan that threatened rare apes - Devdiscourse - August 12th, 2020
- Growth of Biological Pest Control Market has been derived from the growing CAGR 2020-2028 - The Daily Chronicle - August 12th, 2020
- Are more pests popping up because of the COVID-19 pandemic? - KVUE.com - August 12th, 2020
- Termite Treatment Chemical Products Market Size, Share, Segmentation, Business Growth, Top Key Players, Analysis, Opportunities and Forecast to 2027 -... - August 12th, 2020
- Loved and Lost: No matter where she lived, Harriet Hohman felt most at home on a stage - NorthJersey.com - August 10th, 2020
- Sacred Heart School - Kalyan's Biomimicry Lab's discovery could change building construction technology i - Times of India - August 9th, 2020
- Termite Control Market 2020 Size by Product Analysis, Application, End-Users, Regional Outlook, Competitive Strategies and Forecast to 2027 - Owned - August 9th, 2020
- Petition To Remove Farrakhan From Twitter Gains Signatures - The Jewish Voice - August 9th, 2020
- ServiceMaster Names Brett T. Ponton as Its Next Chief Executive Officer - Business Wire - August 8th, 2020
- article image World's most trafficked animal gives Trump new way to hit China - Digital Journal - August 8th, 2020
- Photos found forgotten in a Tulsa home reunited with family - kjrh.com - August 7th, 2020
- Petition to remove Farrakhan from Twitter gains 1400 signatures and counting - Cleveland Jewish News - August 7th, 2020