We all know that for a good portion of the year, it’s great to live in Florida. But there is a tradeoff.
Our unique climate often creates problems for our homes that are far worse here than in other parts of the country.
One example of that is dealing with termites, fungi, mosquitoes and roaches.
While these pests can create serious problems in your home, there are effective ways to deal with them, according to Kevin Smith, the branch manager and certified operator for McCall Service for the North Central Florida area.
Starting with termites, there are three types – subterranean, dry wood and damp wood.
“Subterranean may be the biggest problem,” Smith said. The workers look like white ants. The reproductives are winged and their body is dark in color, they swarm out of the nest once a year when the colony is big enough to start producing another colony. If you see them in the wall, look for pinholes and mud tubes. The big mistake people make is that when they see the swarmers disappear, they think the problem is over. The workers are still in the wall but do not come out. They cause massive damage and then do not swarm for a year.
They usually appear on warm days after heavy rain, an all-too-common occurrence in Florida. To successfully eliminate them, there must be a barrier between the ground and the termites or a bait system, he said. When they eat the bait, it eliminates the whole colony.
Unlike subterranean termites, dry wood termites do not have to go back and forth to the ground.
“They fly from outside into the wood and bore themselves in,” he said. “The only way to control them is to fumigate.”
If there’s any good news with termites, it comes with the damp wood termites.
“The wood had to get really saturated for them,” Smith said. “I’ve only seen them twice in 30 years and never in Gainesville.”
Next is wood decaying fungi. This is a problem when wood gets moist, generally a moisture content of more than 20 percent, he said.
“When it’s humid out, fungi start to grow in the wood,” said Smith. “It breaks down the wood for nutrition. It is treated with a borate wood preservative.”
Smith suggests that if you’re building a new home, you ask the builder to treat it with borate in conjunction with the soil pretreatment. That can help prevent future issues.
Next is our Florida mosquitoes. No one needs to be told that we are in mosquito season right now because of the humidity and moisture.
“Mosquitoes are a great concern because they bring West Nile Virus, Equine Encephalitis and other ailments,” he said. “The bigger ones we see here are Aedes mosquitoes. They transfer many problems to people. The best thing you can do is empty out anything that holds water – flower beds, pots, etc. Try to eliminate all the standing water you can.”
McCall has conventional treatments as well as an all-natural system to treat for mosquitoes called In2care. It is derived from a naturally occurring fungus placed in containers around the property.
“It contaminates the mosquitoes,” he said. “It doesn’t work fast but works well. And it’s safe for people and pets.”
Finally, there are roaches. The most common, Smith said are German roaches. They are common in apartment complexes, nursing homes and grocery stores but can be found at any location.
“We get more calls for these kinds of roaches than any others,” he said. “They are more difficult to treat because they like to live in electronics and appliances in and around the motor. We often find them in a refrigerator and computers and kitchen areas. They like tight spots and the warmness of appliances. We have to use special baits, and It involves a lot of mechanical work and vacuuming to get them out.”
So, while there are some signs you can look for and actions you can take to prevent these pests, the best thing you can do is keep your home treated by a professional exterminator on a regular basis.