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The Conehead Termite

The conehead termite, formally known as the Nasutitermes Corniger, is not native to the United States.  Originally found in the Caribbean, this species was found in the US in 2001 and as a result of concentrated effort, was thought to be eradicated in 2003.  It’s back and that’s not good news.

In recent months, the conehead termite has been found in Dania Beach in Broward County.  State crews have been working diligently to destroy the 25 nests that were found and to stop the creatures from spreading into neighboring counties.  This is because the conehead termite has a voracious appetite for just about anything made from wood.

Identified from other termites due to its cone-shaped or tear-dropped shaped head, this termite has the potential to spread rapidly and adapt to almost any type of geography or habitat.  If allowed to spread, the damage to property in the United States could be devastating.

Outside of the shape of their heads, coneheads have two other identifying characteristics.

1) They build tunnels.  These tunnels can be up to one-half an inch wide and are found on the outside of trees, houses and walls. Even though other termites can build tunnels, the coneheads are usually extremely busy within theirs and can build complex networks of tunnels.  If you destroy a small section of tunnel, you will see the conehead shaped creatures rush out.  The tunnels are the first sign of an infestation.
2) They build large brown nests. Unlike most termite species, these species do not make their nests underground.  Instead – they make nests that are extremely conspicuous – they do not try to hide them or build them away from prying eyes.  They can be found on trees, shrubs, the outside of houses, or even on the ground.   The large visible nests are usually not built until the second or third year of the infestation of a colony, but smaller softball shaped nests might be seen in the first year.

If you happen to see what you think is a conehead termite, you are urged not to try to take care of it yourself.  Many over-the-counter pesticides simply urge these bugs on to the next yard but do not kill them.  Since the goal is to eradicate the species from the United States, it is important to contact the Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) at 850-617-7997.

If you think you might have coneheads, but aren’t sure, you are still asked to contact the DACS.  They can help you with identification and treatment options.

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