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  • Writer's pictureJon Stoddard

Termite Types in Florida: A Comprehensive Guide


Termite infestations can be a homeowner's nightmare, especially in Florida, where the warm, humid climate is a paradise for these wood-devouring pests. Understanding the different types of termites, their habits, identification, and signs of infestation can help you prevent extensive damage to your property.

Florida has three primary types of termites: the Eastern Subterranean Termite, the Formosan Subterranean Termite, and the Drywood Termite.


Eastern Subterranean Termites

Description & Habits: Eastern Subterranean Termites (Reticulitermes flavipes) is one of the most common termites found in North America, including Florida. They play a crucial role in the environment by breaking down dead wood and recycling it back into the ecosystem, but when they target our homes and structures, they can cause significant damage.


Description: Eastern Subterranean Termite colonies are divided into different castes: workers, soldiers, and reproductives (also known as swarmers or alates).

  • Workers are the most numerous in a colony. They are responsible for feeding the entire colony and are about 1/8 inch long with a creamy-white, soft body.

  • Soldiers defend the colony from predators. They have elongated yellow-brown heads with strong jaws (mandibles) used in defense. Soldiers are about the same length as workers.

  • Reproductives or swarmers are winged termites that leave the colony to mate and establish new colonies. They are dark brown or black and about 3/8 inch long, with long, equal-length wings.

Habits: Eastern Subterranean Termites are aptly named as they construct their colonies in the soil. They create a network of tunnels and galleries extending up to several feet into the ground. They primarily feed on cellulose, a wood and plant matter component.

These termites use mud tubes, built from soil and saliva, as protective tunnels to reach their food sources. The tubes provide a humid, dark environment that termites require and protect them from predators.

Eastern Subterranean Termites typically swarm on warm, rainy days in spring. After swarming, the mated pair will start a new colony, laying eggs that will develop into workers and soldiers.

The social behavior and division of labor within the termite colony mean it can operate 24/7 to feed and expand. These termites can cause extensive property damage if not detected and controlled promptly.


Identification: Eastern Subterranean Termites are rarely seen because they live underground and within the walls of buildings. They are typically detected through the presence of their mud tubes, which they build for protection as they travel from their termite colony to their food source.

Signs of Infestation: Spotting a subterranean termite infestation early can save you considerable time, stress, and money. Here are the most common signs of a subterranean termite infestation:

Mud Tubes: Subterranean termites, including Eastern Subterranean Termites, are known for building mud tubes. The termites construct These roughly pencil-sized tubes out of the soil, wood particles, and their saliva. These tubes are used as protective tunnels from their colony in the soil to their food source. You may spot these mud tubes on foundation walls, interior walls, crawl spaces, or other structural elements.


Termite Swarmers or Discarded Wings: One of the most noticeable tell-tale signs of a termite infestation is the presence of termite swarmers or their discarded wings. Swarmers, or alates, are the reproductive members of the termite colony, and they typically emerge in the spring. After their mating flight, they discard their wings, so if you see small, uniform piles of wings on windowsills or corners, it's a clear sign of an infestation.

Damaged Wood: Subterranean termites primarily feed on the softer springwood and can hollow out wooden structures over time. This damage may not be visible on the surface. If you tap the wood and it sounds hollow or unusually soft and easily punctured, it might be a sign of termite damage.


Bubbling or Peeling Paint: Often mistaken for water damage, bubbling or peeling paint can also signify termites. Termites can introduce moisture into the wood or wall, causing the paint to bubble or peel.


Frass or Termite Droppings: Unlike drywood termites, subterranean termites do not leave noticeable piles of fecal pellets, known as frass, since they use their droppings to build their mud tubes. However, if their mud tube network is disturbed, you may notice small, pellet-like droppings.


Visible Termites: Termites are elusive, but you may spot them, especially during their swarming period. Worker termites are pale and soft-bodied, while soldier termites have large, darker heads with strong mandibles.

If you suspect a termite infestation, it's best to contact a professional pest control service like Imperial Pest Prevention to conduct a thorough inspection and recommend an effective treatment plan.


Formosan Subterranean Termites

Formosan Subterranean Termites (Coptotermes formosanus) are an invasive species, originating from Asia. They're often called the "super termite" due to their aggressive nature, the size of their colonies, and the rapid pace at which they can destroy wooden structures.

Description: Formosan termites have a caste system similar to other termites, including workers, soldiers, and reproductive termites (also known as alates or swarmers).

  • Workers are about 1/8 inch long, soft-bodied, and creamy translucent color. These termites perform the colony's labor, such as feeding the others, caring for the young, and maintaining the nest.

  • Soldiers are similar in size to the workers but have a yellowish-brown oval-shaped head and large mandibles with tiny teeth. Their primary role is to defend the colony from threats, such as ants or other termite colonies.

  • Reproductive termites, or swarmers, are more significant (about 1/2 inch long), with a yellowish-brown body and two pairs of translucent wings of equal length. After swarming and mating, they shed their wings.

Habits: Formosan termites are subterranean, meaning they live in the soil and build elaborate tunnel systems. They also construct intricate, carton-like nests within the walls of a structure, which is unique to this species. These nests can retain moisture, allowing the colony to survive without returning to the soil for water.

These termites are voracious eaters and can consume wood much faster than most other termite species. Formosan termite colonies are much larger than other termite species, often reaching several million individuals, further adding to their destructive potential.

Formosan termites usually swarm at night during late spring or early summer on warm, humid evenings, especially after rain.

Due to their aggressive nature, large colonies, and the extensive damage they can cause, Formosan termites are considered one of the most destructive termite species in the United States.


Identification: The workers are a creamy white color, similar to other termites. However, the soldiers have more oval-shaped heads with mandibles with small teeth.

Signs of Infestation: Formosan termites, sometimes called "super termites," are incredibly destructive. They build large colonies and consume wood rapidly, making spotting an infestation early crucial to minimizing the damage. Here are the key signs of a Formosan termite infestation:


Swarmers and Discarded Wings: Like other termite species, Formosan termites produce winged reproductives, or swarmers, which leave the colony to mate and establish new colonies. Swarmers are typically seen on warm, humid evenings in late spring or early summer, especially after rain. After swarming, they discard their wings, so finding piles of wings, particularly near lights or around windows, can indicate an infestation.


Mud Tubes: Formosan termites are a type of subterranean termite, and they construct mud tubes from the soil to their food source. These tubes on foundation walls, interior walls, or other structures provide a moist environment and protect them from predators.


Damaged Wood: These termites can cause severe damage to wooden structures in a relatively short time due to their aggressive nature. If you tap the wood and it sounds hollow or notices dark areas or blisters in wooden flooring or walls, it could be a sign of a Formosan termite infestation.


Carton Nests: A distinctive sign of a Formosan termite infestation is the presence of carton nests. These are a mixture of soil, chewed wood/cellulose, and fecal matter, and they may be found in wall cavities, attics, or other hidden areas. These nests are often brown, have a spongy consistency, and can retain moisture, allowing the termites to survive without returning to the soil for water.


Frass or Droppings: Unlike drywood termites, Formosan termites typically do not leave noticeable piles of fecal pellets since their droppings are used to construct their nests and mud tubes. However, you might notice small, pellet-like droppings if their network is disturbed.

If you suspect a Formosan termite infestation, contact a professional pest control service promptly. The experts can accurately identify the species, assess the extent of the termite infestation, and recommend an effective treatment plan.


Drywood Termites

Description & Habits: Drywood Termites (Kalotermes and Incisitermes spp.) are another type of termite commonly found in Florida. Unlike their subterranean counterparts, they live inside the wood they infest, damage, and do not require contact with the soil, making them a unique challenge for homeowners and pest control professionals.

Description: Drywood termites also have a caste system with workers, soldiers, and reproductive termites (also known as alates or swarmers).

  • Workers, often called pseudergates, are creamy white and do most of the foraging and feeding within the colony. They are smaller than the other castes, typically around 1/8 inch long.

  • Soldiers have larger, rectangular yellowish-brown heads with strong mandibles. They are similar in size to the workers, and their role is to defend the colony.

  • Reproductives, or swarmers, are larger (around 1/2 inch long), and their bodies are often a dark brown or black color. They have two pairs of long wings that are almost twice the length of their body when extended.

Habits: Drywood termites, true to their name, infest dry, un-decayed wood, including the structural timber in homes, utility poles, furniture, and dying trees. They do not require contact with the soil or any other moisture source, deriving the moisture they need from the wood they consume.

These termites create colonies within the wood, digging out a network of galleries or tunnels where they live and breed. Over time, the termites can cause considerable damage to the infested wood, hollowing it out from the inside.

Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termite swarmers are typically seen in the late summer or fall, particularly on warm, sunny days.

Despite their smaller colony size compared to subterranean termites, drywood termites can still cause significant damage over time due to their ability to live undetected within wooden structures for years.


Identification: Drywood termites are slightly larger than the subterranean types. They have winged swarmers that are typically seen during the day, particularly in the spring and summer.


Signs of Infestation: Piles of tiny, six-sided fecal pellets often indicate a drywood termite infestation. The damage caused by drywood termites often appears as clean, smooth galleries within the wood.


FAQs

Q: What's the most destructive termite in Florida? A: The Formosan Subterranean Termite is considered the most destructive due to its aggressive nature and large colonies.

Q: Can I handle a termite infestation on my own? A: Termite infestations require professional treatment due to the extent of termite damage they can cause and their resilience. DIY treatments may not reach the entire colony and may only provide temporary relief.

Q: How often should I get a termite inspection? A: Professionals recommend an annual termite inspection. However, if you notice any signs of an infestation, you should contact a pest control service immediately.



Imperial Pest Prevention: Your Solution to Termite Infestations

Imperial Pest Prevention is your trusted partner for professional termite control in Daytona Beach, Florida, and surrounding areas. We have experienced, licensed technicians who understand the habits of Florida's termites and how to eradicate them effectively. Our services include inspections, preventative measures, and treatments for active infestations.

Contact us today at (386) 956-9506 for a free consultation. You can also visit our website for more information and to schedule an appointment.

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Key Notes

  • Florida has three primary types of termites: Eastern Subterranean Termites, Formosan Subterranean Termites, and Drywood Termites.

  • Signs of a termite infestation and presence may include mud tubes, discarded wings, and piles of fecal pellets.

  • Handling a termite infestation requires professional assistance.

  • Imperial Pest Prevention in Daytona Beach, Florida, provides comprehensive termite control services.

Don't let termites eat away at your peace of mind. Contact Imperial Pest Prevention today.

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