St. Petersburg, Florida - Over the past 20 years in the pest control business, Jeff McChesney has seen a lot of termites. So many in fact, there's not even a flinch when he breaks open an infested piece of wood to reveal thousands of the little white insects crawling around.
"Yeah, here we go," he says.
And in recent months, McChesney has seen more of the destructive bugs than ever before. He suspects the rainy weather we've had this summer has moistened the soil and made it easier for subterranean termites to travel. And the damp weather has also cooked up more of their favorite food: rotting wood from things like leaky roofs and moist mulch.
"A lot more activity than we have in years past," says McChesney, who works for the pest control company Truly Nolen. "And it's not just my branch. My Tampa branch, my Sarasota branch... everybody has seen an increase in subterranean termites across the board."
Several termite experts contacted by 10 News say that the rain may not have increased termite numbers, but the weather may have indeed increased their foraging activity.
McChesney showed us an extreme example of what termites can do. The St. Petersburg house had been vacant for several years and when the owners came back, they found a collapsed roof over a back room.
But McChesney warns that it doesn't take years for subterranean to do major damage and take a giant bite out of your wallet.
"They eat 24 hours a day. They never stop eating, nor do they sleep," he says. "The average amount of damage is $8,000, and that's before a homeowner even notices them."
It's enough to make a homeowner lose some sleep, but you can take some preventive measures. McChesney advises homeowners to fix all leaks inside their home, move mulch and landscape timbers away from the foundation, and to check that exterior siding or stucco isn't meeting the soil.
McChesney and independent experts also recommend an inspection every year. For more information from the state on termites click here.