It's Termite Season. How to Fight Back.
You might see them in the evenings, moving beneath street lights and porch lamps like speckled clouds.
Or spot signs of them around your house: brown lines weaving up outdoor walls, sawdust-like droppings at the back of a dresser drawer, or tiny insects flying in front of a TV screen.
Don't panic. You can effectively combat the pests whose wood-chomping proclivities make them a scourge of the insect world.
Be aware. If you see signs of termites, or termite damage, contact a licensed and reputable pest control company. Better yet, call three companies and go with the one that best suits your needs.
Here's what you need to know, and to look for:
- Drywood termites swarm in evenings, generally from April through July. They like anything made of wood or wood byproducts - attics, floors, furniture, books - and live in colonies. Look for the insects' wings, mounds of tiny fecal pellets, or wooden surfaces that have developed blisters, indicating the substance beneath them is hollow.
- Subterranean termites are the most destructive. You're likely to encounter them from December through May. These termites crave moisture, and infest wood from underground. To move upward, they build mud tubes to protect themselves from dry air and predators. Look for the tubes, and tap wood to see if it's hollow beneath the surface.
There's lots of information about termites online. The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is a great resource. Search for "termites." Learn about the types of termites in Florida, and how to prevent them from establishing a colony in your home. You also can find out how to detect their presence, and what to do if you determine the insects have infested your house or possessions.
Some other thoughts:
- Eliminate places where water collects. For instance, inspect soffits, window frames, and concrete slabs. Don't place mulch or landscape plants directly next to a building. Make sure outdoor faucets and sprinklers point away from structures.
- Limit wood-to-ground contact, and use pressure-treated wood when possible.
- Carefully examine furniture for the presence of termites before bringing it home.
- If you see termites, note the time of day and date.
Treatments vary, depending on types of termites. Make sure you know what kind you have. No idea? Put a sample of an insect, not just its wings, in a small container filled with rubbing alcohol. Show the sample to your pest control expert.
Termites are here throughout the year, but they are particularly noticeable in springtime. Pay attention, gather pertinent information, and act decisively to get qualified help.
With knowledge and expert counsel, you'll get through this.