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Super Formosan Termites Attack Boat in St. Johns County

8:38 PM, May 16, 2011   |    comments
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  • Formosan termite nest found in the boat. It is about 18 inches long.


ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- An aggressive type of termites has been found in St. Augustine.

Smith Brothers Pest Control found nests of Formosan termites on a boat in a boatyard near downtown St. Augustine.

"I was shocked. I was thinking this is unbelievable because these guys were so bad. They're mean," Mike Smith, owner of Smith Brothers Pest Control.

Last week, Smith and his son were told about a swarm of insects around a boat which is dry docked at a boatyard.

Upon inspection, Smith and his son found several of their nests on a 60 foot trawler from Miami. His description of the incident sounded like something from a science fiction movie.

"They started rattling their heads, sounded like Rice Krispies. Then the secretion of the stuff coming out of their heads it's like a deterrent for the ants and stuff. We got the sticky stuff all over us."

Smith said he called  a state inspector about the Formosan termite, which is new to St. Augustine to check out the critters. The inspector confirmed the pesky bugs on the boat were Formosan termites.


Smith's son, Mike Smith Jr., said it takes four times more gas to kill the Formosan termite than your run of the mill drywood termite. They also can devour a one foot piece of 2X4 wood in three weeks.  Smith said it would take your average termite about four months.

And they don't just bite wood.
"As soon as we started taking this [nest] out, they started attacking us," Smith. "They were like needles, they clipped on to you. You gotta knock them off. They're very aggressive."
The Formosan "is one of the most destructive termite species in the world today," according to the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences website.


It is characterized by large colonies and the rapid rate that it can eat wood. 

"The territory of a single colony can be up to 300 feet...It infests a wide variety of structures (including boats and high-rise condominiums), according to the IFAS.

Smith tented the boat over the weekend.  However, because they had already swarmed, Smith said there's no work where the tiny terrors are eating now.

The neighborhood right next to the boatyard is the Lincolnville Historic District, and it's chock full of old wooden houses.
"Sooner or later, they'll show up," Smith said, "and that's the bad news for St. Augustine."




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