For Floridians homeowners like me, very few things fear strike in our hearts like the mention of termites. Due to its climate, Florida is considered an ideal breeding ground and thriving place for these silent critters. Researchers at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences have predicted that nearly 50% of buildings in South Florida will be at risk of termite infestation in the next two decades.
So, how to defend against termites in Florida despite its welcoming climatic conditions? It is possible to have your house protected from the shenanigans of these wood-destroying insects. If you seal the wood surfaces inside and outside of the house, you can keep them at bay. Similarly, if you can make a clear boundary between your garden and indoors, you can see through the springs and summers without encountering even mildest of termite infestation in the house.
Before calling a pest professional, there are many ways in which homeowners can prevent the termite infestation from taking its roots in their house. In this piece, we are going to discuss all those measures that you can take on your own to keep your house and its wooden articles safe from all types of termites.
Signs of Termite Infestation
Before we move on to discuss ways to defend against termites, it is imperative to have an overview of signs that indicate their presence. If you are aware of the telltale signs of termite infestation, you will be able to get rid of them before they inflict irreversible damage on your property.
Presence of Termite Swarmers
If you find termite swarmers near any window, door, and other openings of the house, it is an indication that there is a nearby underground termite nest. Swarmers are essentially winged termites produced by fully-developed termite colonies. Swarmers’ presence in and around the house is nature’s way of telling you that termites are in the near vicinity.
Presence of Wings, Droppings, and Pellets
If you notice insect droppings and pellets along the wallboards and other edges and ends in the house, it is a call to look for any pest infestation. Since termite is the most likely insect to plague buildings in Florida, you particularly need to look for their colonies. Similarly, the presence of wings on the aforementioned locations indicates that swarmers were there not too long ago.
Mud Tubes and Tunnels
If you notice mud tubes and tunnels in your garden/backyard/lawn, it is a sign that subterranean termites have infested your property.
Hard-to-Open Wooden Doors and Windows
Under extreme humid weather, wood becomes puffy. This is the reason why wooden doors and windows get too tight for their fitting, and it becomes hard to open and close them without exerting extra force. If you live in Florida, you can experience this phenomenon around the summer rains.
However, an extreme termite infestation can also cause wood to develop the same bulge. When termites creep into the wooden articles and start eating and tunneling them, they produce the moisture that causes similar distension.
Hollow, Papery, and Bubbled Wooden
If you notice that wooden articles in the house have developed a bubbled texture or sounding hollow on the knocking, then it is a sign that termite has eaten them out from inside. You have to move immediately and devise a defense against termites upon coming across any such wooden fixture in the house.
Ways to Defend Against Termites
Even if you haven’t stumbled upon any sign of termite infestation, you should preemptively set up a defense against termites. As a Floridian, your house is always vulnerable to those cellulose-loving insects.
Prevent Excessive Dampness
Hot weather and moisture make an ideal breeding ground for termites. While you can’t change the weather of Florida, you can certainly control the amount of moisture in and around your property. Make sure that no amount of water gets accumulated around your house.
Imperceptible leaky plumbing fixtures often provide the right amount of moisture not just for termites but for a host of other insects to thrive. Therefore, have a thorough inspection of all the plumbing fixtures and connections in the house before spring season gets into full swing. Also, make sure that rain gutters are effectively moving water away from the foundation of the house.
Revise the Installation of Wooden Fixtures
Wooden articles that are in contact with soil become the first casualty of termite infestation. If your property also has wooden door/window frames and sidings with one end touching the soil, you need to change that setting. Either seal the bottom of the windows fixtures or move the soil away from them. The latter is a more effective option in the long run.
Whenever you install a new wooden structure near the soil, make sure there is at least one-inch space between them.
Dispose of Old/Non-Usable Wood
Many homeowners leave tree stumps as they are. Moreover, they are in the habit of burying wood scraps and other waste timber in their gardens and backyards to keep the soil fertilized. These habits are not likely to be consequential if you are not living in a state with hot and humid weather for most of a year.
Here, in Florida, you should get rid of tree stumps as well. Similarly, dispose of the wasted lumber instead of keeping it inside your property. The presence of this unattended wood in and around the house can provide the initial reinforcement to the termite population.
Create a Barrier Between Garden and Home
A garden bleeding onto a building in the form of shrubs, perennials, and other green plants looks stunning. However, it might not be the best outdoor décor strategy for a Floridian homeowner. When plants are cultivated right next to the exterior wall of the house, it makes it easy for various insects, including termites, to move from outdoors to indoors.
Since termites are already known for their silent activity, it is almost impossible to detect when they start shifting inside your house from the outdoor vegetation space. For that matter, always develop a garden/lawn while creating a barrier between the soil ground and the main building of the house. The simplest way to create that barrier is to construct a concrete pavement in between.
Seal All the Possible Entry Points
Last but not least, seal all the possible entry points of your house from where termites can make their way inside. First, inspect the foundation of the house and make sure all the openings and cracks are sealed. You can easily do that on your own by using any good wood sealing material.
Secondly, take a look at all the vents, attic windows, and other structures that are opening on the outside. You have to seal them with termite-proof metallic mesh to completely restrict the entry of wood destroyers in the house.
By taking a proactive approach, you can easily defend against termites no matter where you live in Florida. Also, keep all the signs of termite infestation in mind. This way, you won’t be caught by an unpleasant surprise of their presence in the house.
Before we sign off, it is imperative to answer some pressing questions that homeowners in Florida usually have about termite infestations.
What Are the Things that Attract Termite to Any Property?
Besides hot and muggy locations in and around your property, several other things can attract termite populations. For instance, unpainted and unsealed wooden surfaces in the house can also lure nearby termite populations. Wood waste piles and tree stumps are other items that can host the first batch of termites on your property.
Excessive ground moisture and garden soil that remains muggy all the time can also attract termites.
Which Termite Species Infest Houses in Florida?
Houses in Florida usually experience an infestation of three types of termite species.
Subterranean is the most common termite species found in Florida. They further branch out into two sup-species: Eastern and Formosan. As the name implies, these termites make their nests underground, and from there, build a mud tube to the nearby property featuring wooden structure. Formosan termites are more deadly among the two because they make large nests and colonies and hence infest in large numbers.
As the name suggests, this termite like to infest dry wood (moisture content less than 12%). Drywood termite infestation usually remains localized.
These termites love humid weather and damp wood. They tend to build their nests in trees and often make ways to home through fallen branches.
Why Termites Eat Wood and How They Are Able to Digest It?
Termite eats wood for its protein content called cellulose. Nearly all wood types are 50% cellulose, which means termites can eat away half of any wooden article. Termites are able to digest wood because they have protozoa in their stomach that breaks down the hard wooden fiber for them.