Just the thought of termites can give the creepy crawlies. These tiny insects form colonies and feed on wood, paper, plants…you name it. The damage these insects cause to a home’s structure worry many property owners and can become costly to treat.
One of the best ways to prevent a termite infestation is identification and taking preventative measures to protect the home. Conehead termites are a type of termite species, and are often found in the Caribbean area and Florida. It’s thought these pesky bugs entered Dania Beach, Florida, when a boat traveling from the Caribbean and Central and South America docked on its shores. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), Broward County, Florida is the only known location in the United States that has seen an outbreak of these invasive pests.
How to Identify Conehead Termites?
Probably the most distinguishing characteristic is this termite species’ cone shaped head, where it likely got its name. As with other termite species, conehead termites form a caste system. The soldier conehead is small in size and not easily seen with the naked eye. When mature, it is roughly 3-4 mm long. Its cone-shaped head is dark brown and can release a sticky substance to fend off predators, such as lizards or ants. Soldier conehead termites make up approximately 20-30% of the colony. Winged conehead termites, aka swarmers, have dark wings and leave their nest to form new colonies. The remaining conehead termites resemble most other termite species, with light colored bodies and non-distinctive cone-shaped heads.
Rather than underground tunneling, like subterranean termites, conehead termites travel like ants on the ground or build narrow termite highways, or mud tubes, on the surface areas of trees, shrubbery, fences, or homes. A conehead colony also builds above ground nests in trees, on the open ground, within vegetation, or on structures. These are large and can measure up to 3 feet in diameter and appear dark brown in color with a hard, bumpy appearance.
Signs of a Conehead Termite Infestation
The invasive conehead termite species can cause widespread damage quickly. Aggressive and with a ferocious appetite, conehead termites aggressively eat cardboard and other paper products, grasses, roots, shrubs, dead or live wood from trees, and wooden structures and furniture.
Unfortunately, these insidious insects go through an “Invisible Phase”. This allows conehead colonies to remain in hiding and grow in numbers. According to Barbara L. Thorne, PH.D. in her entomology report for the University of Maryland, this “Invisible Phase” develops into the “Big Reveal” where we can begin to see the signs of a conehead termite infestation.
Probably the easiest indicator of a conehead termite infestation is finding a nest. Dark brown in color, conehead termite nests resemble the shape of a watermelon or large ball. The surface of the nest will appear bumpy and hard. Conehead termite nests are usually found in or near a tree, on the open ground, or shrub. Fortunately, there are effective ways to treat and help prevent a future conehead infestation.
How to Treat a Conehead Termite Infestation
Because of its reputation as a non-native invasive species, it’s important to quickly treat conehead termite infestations when found. Pest Control Technology (PCT), a leading source for pest control information, recommends an aggressive approach with the complete removal of the nest, removal of all food source materials, and conventional termiticides. Killing the colony or at least a majority of the population will slow or eliminate the infestation. The PCT goes on to say fumigation is rarely necessary with the exception of an extreme conehead termite infestation.
To help prevent conehead termite infestation, property owners can trim back shrubbery and vegetation around the home or surrounding structures, perform regular lawn maintenance, remove wood and other potential termite food sources, and stay alert for any signs of conehead termites.
Professional Termite Inspection
To date, conehead termites have not traveled to other states in the U.S. However, scientists are unsure about their potential to migrate to other areas. For now, we have little concern about conehead termite infestation in the north eastern part of the United States.
If you see signs of termites or other pests in your home or business property, contact Eliminate ‘Em for effective pest control service. Family owned and operated for over 3 decades, we serve Connecticut, southern New York, Rhode Island, and western Massachusetts and can offer same day service and a no-obligation free estimate for extermination services.
Schedule an appointment with Eliminate ‘Em team today. Available day or night, we can offer a complete property assessment and help protect your property from damaging pests.