Termites pose vital danger to South Florida throughout hurricane season, UF researchers say – WSVN 7News | Miami Information, Climate, Sports activities


(WSVN) – Termites love to eat the wood in our homes and businesses, and in tonight’s 7 Investigates, Kevin Ozebek explains why invasive termites are a huge risk in South Florida, especially at the start of hurricane season.

They may look tiny, but termites are big problems.

Thomas Chouvenc, Urban Entomologist, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, University of Florida: “The question is not, do I have termites? When will I have termites? “

At the Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, Thomas Chouvenc and his millions of termites help answer this question.

Thomas Chouvenc: “We are probably the only laboratory in the country and perhaps in the world that has collections of colonies with everyone: the king, the queen, the brood.”

It has the common, dry wood termites that you are probably familiar with.

Thomas Chouvenc: “A single colony can spend its entire life cycle in a single piece of wood.”

But it also keeps Formosa and Asiatic underground termites. They are called supertermites because they cause more damage than the dry type of wood.

And they’re wreaking havoc here in South Florida.

Thomas Chouvenc: “If you find underground termites, now is the time to do something about it.”

Both types of supertermites establish their colonies in trees and quickly eat the trees out from the inside.

They are especially dangerous during hurricane season. What looks like a healthy tree can be blown over by a storm because the inside is being hollowed out by these invasive termites.

Thomas Chouvenc: “After a lot of rain, during which the tree sucks up all of the moisture from the ground, which makes the tree tops heavier and heavier, the tree can even collapse under its own weight.”

Here in the laboratory they study their insatiable appetites.

Just take a look at this wood sample.

Thomas Chouvenc: “People think they have no problem, but if you look at what’s inside, it’s shredded to paper.”

Eventually, the underground termites will go underground and travel through mud pipes to find new sources of food.

If they end up at your home, that’s very bad news.

Thomas Chouvenc: “You can’t go through concrete, but you can go through the cracks in the concrete. These termites can really do a lot of damage and cost a lot of money to repair and treat. “

Researchers are tracking where the supertermites are spreading in Florida.

The yellow dots on this map show where the Formosa underground termites were found. The red dots show the location of the Asian species.

Rudolf Scheffrahn, Professor of Entomology, University of Florida: “We can map all these pest species on a map to see where the termites have been and where they are moving.”

In addition to the laboratory, Professor Rudolf Scheffrahn owns the world’s largest collection of preserved termites.

Rudolf Scheffrahn: That was useful for me as a taxonomist, but also for tracking the exotic species that are sent to me by pest controllers and house owners. “

Knowing exactly what types you have is key to getting rid of those who invade your property.

Rudolf Scheffrahn: “Dry wood termites are fumigated, underground species are baited or residual chemicals are used.”

It is important at this time of year to check your trees for mud pipes. When you see any, it’s time to seek help from the professionals. Exterminators can set up termite bait stations around your home to protect your property during hurricane season.

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