How to Identify Formosan Termites in Fort Lauderdale
July 05, 2023
Formosan termites are curious little creatures with an impressive talent for transforming wooden structures into cozy nests. While their ability to break down fallen trees in the wild is great in nature, it's certainly not something we want in our homes!
Formosan termites hail from eastern Asia, but have become one of the most common species of subterranean termites in Fort Lauderdale. Are you worried you may have Formosan termites in your home? In this blog post, we'll be going over how to identify and how to get rid of Formosan termites in Fort Lauderdale, FL.
What Are Formosan Termites?
Formosan termites are a species of subterranean termites known for their incredible appetite for wood. They're native to southern China, Taiwan, and Japan. However, they've also spread throughout other regions with warm and humid climates, including Florida.
Like all termites, Formosan termites eat cellulose - the main ingredient in wood. They're also social insects, creating large underground nests with millions of termites that all work together to get their next meal. A single colony’s population can reach up to two million termites - that’s a lot of mouths to feed and a lot of damage they can do.
Are Formosan Termites Subterranean?
Yes, Formosan termites are a species of subterranean termites. They create their nests underground and rely on soil contact to maintain moisture levels. These nests are made of interconnected chambers and tunnels that are carefully built for protection, as well as ideal temperature and humidity.
Formosan termites, along with eastern subterranean termites, are one of the most common species of subterranean termites in Fort Lauderdale. What makes Formosans different from other subterranean species is their adaptability. They have the unique ability to build carton nests above ground, which allows them to infest structures that lack direct soil contact.
Formosan termites' adaptability lets them explore a wider range of environments than other subterranean species, so they pose a greater challenge when it comes to termite control and prevention.
Formosan Termites vs. Drywood Termites in Fort Lauderdale
We've made a lot of comparisons between Formosan termites and other subterranean termites, but what is the difference between Formosan and drywood termites? Though they are both wood-destroying organisms, Formosans and drywoods are much more different than you might think.
Formosan termites need moisture to live. They thrive in damp, humid conditions and especially love having soil contact. You'll find their structures in moist, decaying wood or areas with water leaks - especially if there is wood-to-soil contact.
Drywood termites - as their name suggests - prefer their wood to be dry. They're skilled at burrowing into dry wood such as furniture or timber framing. Drywood termites won't create mud tubes along walls like Formosans, but they'll leave behind large piles of frass near their kick-out holes in walls.
Since drywood and Formosan termites work so differently, they require different termite control methods. Formosan control will focus on moisture control as well as removing wood-to-soil contact. Drywood control requires targeted treatments and inspection of dry wooden areas.
How to Identify Formosan Termites
Identifying Formosan termites in Fort Lauderdale can be a challenge since they share similarities with other termite species. However, there are several distinguishing features to look out for:
- Color: Formosan termites have bodies that are pale yellow to brown in color.
- Size: Look for a length of about 0.3 to 0.5 inches long (0.75 to 1.25cm). Formosan termites are one of the largest species of termites found in Florida.
- Antennae: Formosan termites have a pair of straight, beaded antennae.
- Body shape: Like other termite species, Formosans have straight-sided bodies without a pinched waist.
- Head: Formosan termites' most distinguishing feature is their large, oval-shaped heads with powerful jaws.
Looking for these characteristics will make it easy to identify a Formosan termite that you've already found. But what if you haven't found any bugs? What if instead, you're seeing the structures they build?
Signs of Formosan Termites in Your Home
Formosan termites are subterranean, meaning they primarily nest underground in damp soil. However, these underground nests typically don't have direct access to wood, so they have to travel outside for their meals. If you're worried that Formosan termites are using your home for their next meal, here are some signs of Formosan termites to look for:
- Mud Tubes: Formosan termites create mud tubes about the width of a pencil for protection and moisture as they explore outside their nests. You can find these mud tubes along walls, foundations, or any area where termites have gained access to your home.
- Wood Damage: Formosan termites damage wood as they burrow into it. You'll see this as hollowed-out or damaged spots on your walls, blistering or peeling paint, and sagging floors.
- Discarded Wings: When termites swarm, they leave behind discarded wings, often near windows or light fixtures. If you see a bunch of insect wings near your windows, there may be a colony nearby.
Another sign of termites in Fort Lauderdale that homeowners typically look for is piles of termite droppings called frass. However, Formosans and other subterranean termites don't usually leave these piles behind since they use their frass to build their mud tubes. These droppings that look like piles of sand or dirt near kick-out holes are a sign of drywood termites.
When Do Formosan Termites Swarm in Fort Lauderdale?
Swarming is an important part of the life cycle for all termites - including Formosan termites. If you're unfamiliar with the termite life cycle, you may be asking, "What is swarming?"
Swarming is when mature termite colonies release alates, or swarmers. These swarmers have wings and the goal of reproducing and forming new colonies. Swarming happens during warm, humid months - typically on spring and summer evenings.
Formosan termite colonies reach maturity after three to six years - this is when they swarm. Swarmers are attracted to light sources and may be seen near windows, light fixtures, or other illuminated areas. After the swarming is done, these termites will leave behind discarded wings in those areas.
A termite swarm in or near your home is a clear sign of a mature termite colony nearby, but don't panic just yet! Keep in mind that it doesn't always mean the colony is inside your home - it could be underground somewhere nearby. The best course of action is to seek out a professional termite control company that can thoroughly inspect your home for signs of a Formosan termite colony.
How to Get Rid of Formosan Termites in Fort Lauderdale
We know how to identify them, but how do you get rid of formosan termites? Here are a few effective methods:
- Soil treatment: Liquid termiticides create a protective shield around your home to ward off Formosan termites and prevent them from gaining access. Professional pest control companies can apply these termiticides to the soil surrounding your home.
- Baiting systems: Have you ever seen a small green or black circle discreetly nestled in your neighbor's lawn? Those are termite bait stations. Bait stations hold slow-acting termiticides that termites unknowingly carry back to their nests, toppling the entire colony from within. Bait stations are carefully placed near termite activity, luring termites to feed on the bait and share it with their colonies.
- Fumigation: When all else fails, fumigation is the final resort for getting rid of Formosan termites. A protective gas fills the structure of a building and eliminates any unwelcome guests. This method requires professional work to make sure it's done right.
The Best Formosan Termite Control in Fort Lauderdale, FL
If you suspect there may be Formosan termites in your home, you may want to consider a professional termite control company in Fort Lauderdale. Unfortunately, termites aren't as easily deterred by DIY pest control methods as other pests.
With over 3,000 five-star reviews across Google, Yelp, and HomeAdvisor, Native Pest Management is a top rated termite control company in Florida. We use eco-friendly and pet friendly methods and our termite experts will do everything to make sure your home stays safe from Formosan termites. Request a free quote today!