Subterranean Termites Creating a ‘New Norm’ in Florida, Damaging Homes and Trees

February 27, 2024

Some of the most insidious and damaging species of termites are spreading across Florida, causing damage to homes as swarming season approaches in March, experts say.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel reported that entomologists at the University of Florida are warning that the familiar West Indian drywood termites have been joined by two species of subterranean vermin, the Asian and the Formosan termite, both of which are spreading throughout the state.

Drywood termites have been shown to stay within a single piece of wood in a structure for about five years, causing limited damage. Their subterranean cousins build colonies underground or in trees, causing widespread damage before homeowners realize it and creating “a new norm” for the state, entomologist Thomas Chouvenc told the newspaper.

The Formosan termites have been seen elsewhere across the South. Residents in south Alabama have reported extensive damage to homes for more than two decades. Formosan hotspots have recently been found in northwest Florida around Pensacola, and in the Tampa Bay and Orlando areas. Asian infestations are heaviest in south Florida, from the Keys to West Palm Beach, a map created by UF researchers shows.

Chouvenc and pest control companies said that control operations must target different species in different ways. Inspections are key. Subterranean pests can leave mud tubes on the foundation structures of a home.

Tenting and fumigating affects only the drywood termites, the news site noted. Subterranean species need to be fought with bait sticks in the ground around a structure.

Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover termite damage, but may cover water damage. Wet or moist wood can lead to termite infestations, experts have said.

Top photo: Man prying sheetrock and wood damaged by termite infestation in house.

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