Although species vary throughout the United States subterranean termites are the most likely to attack your home. Their underground colonies can contain millions of termites which travel through tubes above ground and into our homes. However, finding evidence of the termite may be difficult until an infestation has already been established causing considerable damage to our home. In fact, termites cause $5 billion worth of damage each year in the U.S. alone. Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover the damage they cause.
The Life Cycle
Termites are primitive insects, but they have developed a highly successful life cycle. Their social colonies are powered by soldiers and workers. Soldiers are equipped with massive jaws that help protect the colony from attacks. Workers and false workers support the colony by providing food to all its members. At certain times of the year, reproductive alates develop. These swarmers have two sets of large overlapping wings that give them a distinctive appearance. Swarmers leave the colony, breed and establish new populations. Subterranean termites will burrow into the ground. Drywood termites, on the other hand, can infest any wood by entering attics, living spaces and unprotected areas.
Florida is home to several drywood termite species. The West Indian drywood termite, Cryptotermes brevis, and the western drywood termite, Incisitermes minor, are the most common. In their reproductive stages, these wood-boring insects measure one-eighth of an inch to one-half of an inch long depending on the species. Western drywood termites are larger, and the swarmers have darker wings and bodies. Drywood termites don’t require direct contact with the ground. They live entirely in the wood they infest and absorb moisture through the fibers that they eat. These termites infest attics, furnishings, wooden trim, cabinets and picture frames. Like other termites, these species will swarm in the spring and the fall. During the rest of the year, infestations are typically detected by the presence of tiny fecal pellets that are kicked out of pin-sized holes.
Subterranean termites are even more destructive and pervasive than their above-ground counterparts. They live in extensive underground colonies. To access food, they build mud tubes that travel up walls and across foundations. Workers ferry wood, cellulose and plant-based materials back to support the colony. The eastern subterranean termite, Reticulitermes flavipes, is the most common termite in the United States, but its status as the most destructive pest is being challenged by the invasive Formosan termite, a new arrival that is thriving in Florida’s tropical climate. These invasive termites are significantly larger and even more destructive than native species.
Termite Treatment Options
Because termites have such a complex social system, it can be extremely difficult to determine the extent of the infestation and the size of the colony. Fortunately, we have access to bait systems and highly effective treatments that target the entire population. We can also eradicate drywood termites with localized and whole-house treatments that don’t require a fumigation tent.
At Hoskins Pest Control, we’ve been serving homeowners and businesses in Sarasota County and the surrounding area since 1987. Our experts are available to perform terminate inspections and to provide comprehensive treatments for termites and other pests. Call us today to schedule an inspection or to learn more about our state-of-the-art termite treatments.