South Florida

These new termites thrive South Florida’s moist environment — and they’re heading north

A fearsome, invasive termite is moving its way through North Florida and growing in dangerous numbers.

The non-native Formosan termite infestation isn’t coming to South Florida. They are already here and in the millions.

The tropical non-native termite, hailing from Asia, traveled to Florida through shipping boats, said Paul Mitola, a Department of Agriculture environmental consultant.

And our sunshine state is the closet thing to heaven for the termite.

The termite thrives in moist environments and primarily eats cellulose, which can be find in wood, cardboard, fabrics and the backs of drywall and insulation, Mitola said.

Unfortunately, we are in the Formosan’s breeding season, which lasts from May to June, Mitola said. But the real problem isn’t their breeding, it’s the tireless work and damage the termites do.

It eats and destroys 24/7 until it dies. The average Formosan colony can have upwards of 10 million termites and does 10 times more damage than native termites whose colonies only average 600,000 to 1 million termites.

The native termites live in the same environment and eat the same thing as the Formosan, but the Asian termite has been beating them at the invasion game.

The Formosan is aggressive and their life span can be between a few months and a year. Although, a colonies queen can live up to 7-10 years.

Because the termite first lives in the ground and then finds ways into your home, detecting them can be hard. But there are ways to tell.

Mitola said to look out for swarmers, which are small flying termites, and mud tubes around your home. These are the easiest to find and the first thing to look for.

“Most times people don’t know they have a problem until they see the swarmers,” Mitola said.

If you don’t see these signs then start protecting your home. Make sure you don’t have leaks in your home (roof, pipes,walls); get rid of any standing water; and although mulch may look nice it attracts these fearsome termites.

If you do see the signs, Mitola advices not to try to remove them yourself. In order to rid your home of the termite a very thorough extermination must be done because they breed quick and in large numbers.

“If you have a house in South Florida you either have termites or you are going to get termites,” Mitola said.

But be careful what exterminator you hire because they may not cover the Formosan, Mitola said. Make sure you read your contract and confirm they do thorough home exterminations.