Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Termites Return In Full Force In Alabama

With termite swarming season heating up in Mobile and Baldwin counties, many homeowners are wary.

"There was a huge swarm at my place," Michael Hutchison of Point Clear said late last week. "They just covered my house."

"I must have gotten a dozen termite calls yesterday," Floyd Rose of Rose Termite and Pest Control in Fairhope said. "It was a heavy swarm day."

In recent years, the increased presence of the Formosan "super" termite in the Mobile area has only added to concerns.

Formosan termites cause more than $1 billion in damage over 11 states annually, said Terminix spokesman Clint Briscoe. They have afflicted particular damage in humid and warm New Orleans.

The highly destructive Formosan termites arrived from China more than 50 years ago, according to Frank Guillot of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Formosan termite research program in New Orleans.

Guillot advises homeowners to take a measured approach to termite preparedness.

He noted that this swarming season started late: "Usually, by now we would have seen more flight activity," he said. "Formosans swarm generally beginning about the middle of April through the end of June."

Said Ping Hu, an Alabama Extension System entomologist at Auburn University: "I have seen less Formosan termite swarming so far this year than in previous years, because of the cold weather in the winter."

Both the researchers and Rose agreed that homeowners should be vigilant about home inspections and take action if termites are found.

"You can have an infestation without seeing a swarm," Rose said.

"If you see termites in your house," Hu said, "you are definitely infected."

Swarming termites are indicators of a colony, but it's the hidden termites doing the damage, Hu said.

Asked to assess the termite season outlook, Thomas Daugherty of the Mobile County Extension office, said, "It is too early to tell. But typically, Mobile's weather is always appropriate for a bad termite season."

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