UF/IFAS unveils termite risk with interactive distribution map


February 21, 2024



Just in time for Termite Awareness Week on March 3-9, 2024, scientists at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) have developed ways to show termite infestation risk in the Sunshine State with an online interactive termite distribution map.

This tool helps residents, property owners and pest management professionals (PMPs) know risks of infestations and how to limit that risk through proactive science-based approaches.

“We are entering a new norm in terms of potential termite damage because the termite problem is changing in Florida,” said Dr. Thomas Chouvenc, an associate professor of urban entomology at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center. Dr. Chouvenc specializes in termite biology and pest control. “Florida’s year-round, warm climate has allowed several invasive termite species to thrive and cause structural damage to our homes and property, while some species are now having a concerning impact on our urban tree canopy.”

Florida is host to 20 termite species, although not all of them pose a threat. Certain invasive termite species specifically impact specific regions in the state. That is why it is critical for Florida PMPs to stay informed about these species, and know how to properly find and fight them.

Through the accumulation of more than 6,500 termite samples over the years, the map provides instant access to a general location where each termite species is known to be established. This gives Florida residents, pest control companies and UF/IFAS Extension agents a way to determine the termite risk at any given location within the state. A companion resource to the online termite distribution map and Extension Ask IFAS document provides detailed information on termite prevention and control.

“While termites are often noticed during their swarming activity, colonies are actually always active and it is important to be proactive year-round in Florida to reduce the potential for damage to your home and trees and save money in the long run,” said Dr. Chouvenc.

Dr. Chouvenc conducts research from his laboratory at the Fort Lauderdale REC. There he works with thousands of colonies of more than 25 million termites. At the same center is Dr. Rudolph Scheffrahn, professor and curator of the UF Termite Collection, which includes over 41,000 colony samples from around the world.

Together, they work to conduct termite research and provide resources to the pest control industry and the public. Particularly during spring, they come across and respond to an abundance of misinformation that rears its head throughout communities about the species and treatments.


About the Author

Ellen Wagner

Ellen Wagner is the digital editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at ewagner@northcoastmedia.net.

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