While Formosan termites are found throughout parts of Florida, they have largely not been found (or have gone unreported) in Pinellas County, one of South Florida’s most densely populated counties that includes the cities of St. Petersburg and Clearwater.
“Pinellas is the last major populous county in Florida to report Formosan termites and that was several years ago,” said Dr. Rudi Scheffrahn, entomologist, University of Florida. “Those termites were actually found in this same town (Gulfport) as this recent discovery. They had had already been found in every populous county in Florida.”
Scheffrahn said that according to his records Formosan termites in Pinellas county have been limited to coastal areas and the southern part of the county.
McClendon said he made the discovery while performing a WDO inspection on a home as part of a real estate transaction. “I could see that there was paint blistering around the door casings and I assumed it was from subterranean termites.”
Upon closer inspection, McClendon pushed down on several of the termites and noticed a white, gooey substance, a clue that they might be Formosan termites based on previous encounters with these pests, he said. (The samples were later sent to a UF extension office, and eventually to Scheffrahn).
Fortunately for the homeowner, McClendon believes that the infestation was relatively new and limited to just one area of the house – an addition on the back of the house. Bingham’s treated the entire house with its Formosan termite treatment protocols, which includes both a tent fumigation and traditional soil treatment.
Bob Bingham, co-owner of Bingham’s, said he thinks this infestation is a sign that Formosan termites are successfully migrating into Pinellas, and over time may become as prevalent as eastern subterranean termites.
Scheffrahn concurs with this assessment, “Hillsborough County is far more populated with Formosan termites but I think it’s only a matter of time before they expand further and further, and that is really the case throughout the state with the exception of the Florida keys, which it is just too tropical for Formosan termites.”