They strike each spring, usually first noticed by evening walkers.
They seem to surround you as they swarm, sending you running for the safety of home.
Once locked inside, you notice there is no escape as they seemingly crawl into your house through any little opening they find.
Each spring, homes in the greater Niceville/Valparaiso area become victims of swarming termites, which drop their wings on your front porch as they are drawn to the light that was left on. In the morning, little shells of the bugs can be found along the baseboards, on the kitchen and bath counters, and creepily inside cabinets or closets.
“Most of Niceville is originally swamp land,” said Sheila Dunning, UF/IFAS commercial horticulture agent III with the Okaloosa County Extension office based in Crestview. Dunning is the bugs specialist with the local extension office.
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences is a federal/state/county partnership dedicated to developing knowledge in Agriculture, human and natural resources and the life sciences. It offers information to the public that teaches humans how to get along with the Florida environment.
“It’s very wet, loose, sandy soil,” Dunning said, and “there’s been new construction in Niceville since Eglin [Air Force Base] opened.
“You’re talking pre-World War II,” she added. Construction takes away termite habitat but adds a new one.
Florida is home to 20 species of termites, with three primary species affecting northwest Florida.
The native dry wood and damp wood termite species may be found in rotting stumps and are usually not found inside. During the flight season, they may find their way into a home or other structures, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they invaded.
“The (subterranean species) live under ground,” Dunning said. “They tunnel into your house, they come and go day to day, and you don’t know.
“The native species, they have to leave the building each day to get water,” she added.
“A lot of people in Niceville don’t know that they are living in Formosan central,” Dunning also said.
The invasive Formosan species has been well established in Florida since the 1980s, and they eat just about everything, including wood furniture.
Because they can find their water source anywhere for their survival, “they can stay in the house forever,” Dunning said.
This species creates the most problems, headaches and cash for home and office owners.
Dunning said that building owners should be proactive in combatting termites. She recommends owners monitor the exterior and interiors of their building, looking for mud tubes. The tubes look a bit like spider veins, creeping along walls.
The tubes, especially used by Formosan species, are made of mud and termite feces, which protects the bugs from predators and dry air.
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