When spring has sprung, love is in the air for termites. April is the peak of their spring mating season, and on their way to reproduce, they cause $5 billion in damage to structures across America each year.
Asian subterranean termites first take to the trees.
Subterranean termite season in Florida begins in late December and lasts through early May. Starting in earnest in March, the number of people seeking “pest control near me” in communities like Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Ocala has a noticeable uptick. That’s when they begin to witness large swarms of the eastern and Formosan subterranean termites– destructive species with a wide tropical distribution. They typically swarm at night and are attracted to lights and live trees. Swarming colonies are first established in a nest they build in large trees and can easily reach several million termites. They’re not picky–any type of tree will do.
These colonies often go undetected in the trees, which gives them ample time to grow and expand their foraging territory. It doesn’t take long for them to find a perfect opportunity to multiply and prosper under the slab or within the walls of your home, out buildings, wooden decks, or other structures.
Two other termite species actively swarm from late April to early May in Florida.
The Formosan subterranean termite has similar colonizing and feeding habits as the eastern subterranean termite. A relative newcomer to Florida, it is rapidly spreading throughout the state. Formosan termites are often more destructive due to the sheer size of their colonies, which can number in the millions.
The West Indian drywood termite season is from June through August. They are fundamentally different from subterranean termites and have a completely different impact on property. They establish small nests inside a single piece of wood, such as structural wood or furniture. When swarming they have iridescent wings and produce what’s known as “frass”, a coffee-ground like dropping typically found in places like around window sills and door jams.
Monitoring for termite activity is key.
James Brooks of St. Petersburg, Florida-based Regional Termite and Pest Control says, “It’s important to know which species we’re dealing with so we can recommend the right treatment.” For instance, structural fumigation is best for drywood termites, while liquid applications like Termidor work better for subterranean termites. Brooks also recommends keeping exterior wood sealed and painted to prevent colonization in the first place.