With all the recent real estate market activity here in Volusia and Flagler counties, I thought I’d take a few minutes to welcome newcomers to our little corner of paradise and offer a brief overview of the pest industry in our area. This is nothing new for those of you relocating from southern states, but for those coming from northern regions, there may be some fresh thoughts here.
The three issues of concern (not fear) are crawling bugs, termites, and lawn care.
Whether living in a warm climate or cold, we share our world with bugs. The most frequent home invaders we see are ants, roaches, and spiders. Although common, they shouldn’t be permanent house guests. The two things southern bugs have that northern bugs lack are size (some are very large) and warmer temperatures that allow them to thrive and multiply most of the year.
Many varieties of ants live near homes. Most are a nuisance when they come inside but are otherwise harmless. (Here are a few helpful tips for how to get rid of ants.)
The exception to this is the red imported fire ant. This medium-sized ant packs a convincing sting much like a wasp, and can spark a severe reaction in those who may be allergic.
Rather than go into a description of the ant and its mound, I would ask that you check out this Wikipedia article and look online for images, so you will know what to be aware of. Please include children in this education so they can also avoid this critter.
Roaches are found worldwide, and Florida is unfortunately no exception. In addition to German cockroaches found in kitchens across the globe, we have a few varieties enjoying the sun and fun in Volusia and Flagler.
The most common is the American roach, known locally as a palmetto bug. Impressive due to its large size, it can also fly, earning it the joking moniker of “Florida State Bird”! If you haven’t seen one, trust me, you’ll know it when you do! American roaches are primarily outdoor bugs, but they will sometimes find their way indoors. They do pose a health risk, so it’s best to get them gone soon.
The black widow spider does live locally and is quite common, although people are very seldom bit. In fact, in almost 30 years of performing pest control in Florida, I know of only one dog (and no humans) bitten by a black widow.
You don’t have to live here for very long before a conversation between homeowners turns to termites. Termites should not be feared exactly, but they are a concern. (Formosan termites in particular.) It doesn’t matter if your home is block or wood frame; termite infestations are possible.
There are two types of termites. The first are drywood termites, which are more common in the older neighborhoods near the river and ocean. These can be controlled using fumigation treatments. These termites are difficult to prevent, and while damage is slower to occur with this species than others, I advise you to deal with the problem promptly if found. Spot treatments are often possible if you or your pest control company discover infestations early.
Subterranean termites can be a bit more problematic. Colonies are bigger than those of drywood termites and are found everywhere in Florida. The good news is they are preventable!
Prevention options include perimeter foundation treatments and bait stations. In my view, the traditional perimeter treatments are more effective and less costly over time than baiting solutions.
A quick look at the electrical panel of your home may reveal a sticker indicating treatments or inspections performed on your home. Likewise, plastic bait stations in the ground around your home should prompt an investigation to determine who installed them and when.
There may also be a transferrable termite bond on the home you buy. A termite bond is essentially an insurance policy offered by a pest control company that makes them responsible for ridding your home of termite infestations and, in some cases, repairing termite damage. Check out this blog post to learn more about this vital piece of Florida homeownership.
One of the greatest challenges to new homeowners relocating to Florida from northern states is how to care for your lawn. St. Augustine grass is the most common variety in our area. It provides a beautiful lawn, if a bit coarse underfoot compared to soft northern turf. Unlike northern turf, a St. Augustine grass lawn requires an intentional commitment from the homeowner to remain healthy and green.
In addition to regular mowing with sharp mower blades, St. Augustine turf has particular watering needs. Too much water can lead to weed and fungus problems, and too little will stress the lawn and lead to poor growth. The local sandy soil also necessitates fertilizer throughout the year to supplement the limited nutrients available naturally.
Fungi and insects (like chinch bugs) complete the list of threats to a Florida lawn. Each requires its own response. Factor in watering and fertilizer restrictions issued by local municipalities, and it can quickly become a love-hate relationship with a Florida lawn.
This is my very basic introduction to the pest world in central Florida. As newcomers settle into their homes, these issues can become great talking points with your new neighbors. Welcome!
Todd Stebleton is the owner and operator of Universal Pest Control, a family-owned business for over 25 years in Ormond Beach, Florida. He and his wife Natalie are proud to have built a company focused on conducting business with honesty and integrity: keeping customers first, protecting the environment, and providing trustworthy, personal service.
Universal: Honest, Environmentally Friendly Pest Control