Florida Department of Agriculture Warns Residents About Termite Season | Home & Garden
Warmer temperatures are not only a hint of Spring, but also a sign of termite swarming season. Swarming occurs when large numbers of termites leave their colonies to search for new nesting sites. In an effort to help consumers avoid termites, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services urges residents to take five simple steps to protect their home.
1. Remove wood piles and other cellulose sources from under and next to the home.
2. Direct water sources, such as air conditioner drip lines and roof downspouts, away from the structure’s foundation.
3. Schedule an annual home inspection by a licensed professional pest control company.
4. Obtain a termite protection contract and renew it annually.
5. When purchasing a home, carefully check the termite protection history of the home.
Termites found in Florida are ¼ inch long, winged, black insects that look similar to flying ants. They avoid light and open air spaces to conceal and camouflage their activities and can be categorized into two groups based on their biological behavior. Earth-dwelling termites that make tunnels in the ground or build tubes above the earth are called subterranean termites. Wood-dwelling termites that have no contact with the earth are known as drywood termites.
Termites are most abundant in the southern portion of the state and along the Gulf coast. Although Florida’s climate is especially conducive for termites, many homes do not have termite protection. Prevention practices and regular inspections are critical in avoiding damage caused by termites, because the insects can go undetected for long periods of time while they feed on the wood in a home.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services regulates and licenses pest control companies and conducts regular inspections to ensure the businesses are following the rules and regulations governing pesticides and pest control.
Licensed pest management professionals have the expertise to inspect buildings and treat them to prevent an infestation or provide treatment when the insects are found. Termite companies are required to clearly tell customers if their contract covers only subterranean or drywood termites, or covers both.
Most pest control operations in Florida are licensed and have the proper training; however, there are unlicensed companies in operation, and it is important to check out any businesses before signing a contract. Consumers can contact the Department’s Bureau of Entomology and Pest Control at 850-617-7997 to find out whether a pest control company is properly licensed, how many consumer complaints have been filed against a particular business, and the various types of termite control contracts required by law.
The Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services suggests consumers read a termite protection contract before signing it. Some contracts only require that the company re-treat a home if termites are found. The Department recommends re-treat and repair contracts, which requires the pest control business to repair any damage caused by termites after a home has been inspected and treated.
For more information, visit www.FloridaTermiteHelp.org or call 1-800-HELP- FLA (1-800-435-7352).