UF/IFAS Publication Outlines Termite Threat by Location

UF/IFAS Publication Outlines Termite Risk by Location

Scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) want residents, property owners, and pest controllers to understand the areas at risk and how to manage that risk through proactive, science-based approaches.

“Termite infestation is a year-round risk for property owners in the Sunshine State,” said Thomas Chouvenc, assistant professor of urban entomology at FLREC and co-author. “With 20 termite species established in Florida, knowing when, where and what termite species have been recorded in abundance in a geographic area can help limit your risk and provide an advantage against potential property damage from infestations.”

In the publication, the authors provide tools and resources for property owners, residents, and pest controllers. Tools and resources include links to an online interactive distribution map, sample submission steps for proper termite species identification and current status, descriptions and links to native and established termite species reported in Florida.

Scientists have learned the keys to knowing the potential termite risk in an area: climate, identification of an established species, ownership conditions, and species range within a geographic location.

It’s important to know where you are in the ranges of each termite species tracked on the interactive map. Scientists have determined distribution areas by conducting sampling over the past four decades. These samples included more than 6,500 termite specimens from across Florida. They received samples either through biological surveys, pest control providers, private individuals or UF/IFAS extension offices.

All samples were identified by species by a member of the UF Termite ID Team or the UF Insect ID Lab and placed in the University of Florida (UFTC) Termite Collection at the Fort Lauderdale Research Center.

Since 2016, the collection location of all termite samples has been publicly available and is updated regularly. Additional images of termites and termite damage in Florida are being collected and reported by Rudolf Scheffrahn, professor of entomology at the center.

“This map is the most detailed and accurate termite distribution map in the world. However, with the spread of invasive species, it is important that consumers and pest management companies continue to provide us with samples so that we can monitor new areas for invasive pest species to establish,” said Chouvenc. “This is important because the entire local community, once established in a new area, is now at risk from such new invasive termites, and knowing about this can help owners to prepare appropriately.”