Don’t Let Termites Ruin Your Boating Season

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Sailboats docked at marina at sunset

When you think about termites, your first thought is likely about protecting your home from their damage. But did you know it’s not uncommon for termites to infest and damage your boat?

Even fiberglass boats aren’t safe because wood is still used in its construction  ̶  from the stringers and hull, to the cabin and its decorative trim work on larger boats.

But, subterranean termite colonies live underground, so you may be wondering: how can they infest a boat? According to Certified Sentricon Specialist® (CSS) Todd Winans, owner of Rocky’s Termite and Pest Control in Pensacola, Florida, swarming termites are the root cause of most boat infestations.

Marina lights and moisture attract reproductive winged termites, which then land or fall on the boats before quickly establishing themselves, often undetected, he says.

Most often, these infestations are caused by Formosan termites, which aren’t your average subterranean termite. A single colony of Formosan termites may contain several million termites in comparison to a native termite colony with several hundred thousand termites.1

“With Formosans, you have a swarm of 75,000 come out instead of 5,000, the size of a native termite swarm,” Winans says. “The numbers just multiply so fast.”

Because of its large population size, a Formosan termite colony can cause more damage in a shorter amount of time than native termite colonies.1

“It doesn’t take long for tons of damage to occur and insurance doesn’t cover it,” he says.

Often, termite damage starts in confined spaces, such as in the hull (the interior structure of the boat), which goes unnoticed until damage is found on the trim and decorative wood of the boat. That’s when Winans gets the call.

He has become well-known at area marinas for his termite elimination work on boats, having successfully treated over 25 boats of all sizes using Recruit® AG FlexPack® bait stations.  

“Boats have numerous small spaces that are hard to access and treat successfully with other treatment methods,” he says. “There’s no way to completely get rid of termites if you don’t treat the source.”

Recruit AG bait stations are the only treatment Winans has found to be 100% effective because it eliminates the colony by using termite biology against them.

Because worker termites feed the rest of the colony, once they’ve fed on the bait, they deliver the lethal dose to the rest of the colony. Not only effectively eliminating the entire colony, but also eliminating the need to access those hard-to-treat areas that often cause other treatment methods to fail.

“Once the bait is placed, the termites are so fast getting into it,” he says. “It’s like candy, they can’t resist.”

Boats are a costly investment, so it’s important to use a proven treatment to eliminate the colony and stop the damage in its tracks. For boat owners concerned about termite damage, the best thing to do is regularly look for signs of termite activity.

“Look for mud tubes in the corner, around the seams, on the trim,” he says. “Pay attention a little more and watch and see.”

Ultimately, the sooner you spot the signs of termite activity, the faster your CSS can work to stop the damage with Recruit AG FlexPack stations.



1Smith, E., and R. C. Whitman. 2007. NPMA Field Guide to Structural Pests, 2nd ed. National Pest Management Association, Inc., Fairfax, VA.


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