Exterminators in Jacksonville
Like beach crowds and overgrown lawns, new crops of termites have been coming out for Jacksonville’s warm spring and spreading through neighborhoods across Northeast Florida. Spring and early summer are swarming seasons, when colonies of the wood-eating insects send out breeding specimens called “reproductives” to launch new colonies.
Clouds of tiny flying insects can fill a room within minutes, usually appearing when midday day heat settles in, especially after it rains. Piles of dead insects and discarded wings left from those swarms are how a lot of people learn they have termites in their homes. But that doesn’t tell homeowners how much wood the established colonies have already eaten, or where they’re camped inside the walls.
“The ones they find are not doing the damage… It’s the ones they can’t see,” said George Richardson, technical director at Peninsular Pest Control and one of the top exterminators in Jacksonville.
Shutting down those colonies has meant new business to pest-control companies for the past few weeks. A bitter winter that stalled the first swarms was followed by weeks of warm spring days that triggered a burst of activity among a common kind of subterranean termite. A second subterranean variety has been coming out lately. And yet another variety, a drywood termite that doesn’t need underground homes, will probably swarm through June, said Richardson, Technical Director for Peninsular Pest Control in Jacksonville.
People shipping lumber around the world have helped widen the territory of some species. “People move around and they move around. And we have more than one kind of termite now,” he said.
Near the end of a cul-de-sac of small homes in Arlington, Richardson pulls back bushes next to a wall with fresh vinyl siding and runs his fingers over the residue of an old termite infestation.
Exterminators in Jacksonville agree: Subterraneans headed for the home’s framing had built – and later abandoned – mud tubes that climbed up the edge of the concrete slab and beneath the siding. Pines are a favorite termite food, so lumber that wasn’t pressure-treated is inviting. So is pine bark mulch in some yards, but termites will eat wood furniture, picture frames, and even books, given the right circumstances.
The tubes shield the insects from sunlight and from predators like lizards and birds as they shuttle between their food source and the colony underground. Drifts of leaves and shade from overhead trees that hold in moisture help mark some areas as prime tube-building spots. He’ll use 60 gallons of Termidor, a long-lasting termiticide, on a 150-foot perimeter.
That substance, now in use more than a decade, has filled a gap in termite-protection created when older, more toxic substances were retired for safety reasons.
“It has revolutionized the pest control industry,” Richardson said. “Once a home is treated, we have very few reoccurrences. … The success with Termidor is in the upper 90th percentile.”
Customers sometimes choose other treatments suited to their own concerns. For a smaller chemical footprint, for example, people often use Sentricon’s Always Active bait system, which spreads termite-destroying chemicals trough a series of stations baited with wood to attract the critters. Like the service, costs will vary by home and by the agreement with the pest company.
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