Boat owners beware: Termites aren't deterred by water.


For avid boaters, summer means it’s time to hit the water as much as possible. So the last thing you want is to have your boating adventures cut short by a termite infestation. However, it is possible. Termites — usually drywood termites — can infest boats just like they do houses and other structures.

Take a look at how termite infestation on boats happens and how to get termites out of your boat.

How termites infest boats

As you probably know, termites eat dead plant material like wood. And many boats contain wood from bow to stern. This is true even for boats made of fiberglass. Wood trim and interiors are all in danger when termites infest boats.

When termites reach reproductive age, they take flight to mate and establish a new colony. This group flight is known as “swarming,” and it often happens when the temperatures warm up. If this swarm occurs when your boat is moored in an area where another boat or dock may be affected by termites, you could be looking at a termite infestation of your own.

Spotting a termite infestation

So now that you know termites can infest boats, how do you know if yours is infested? There are a couple of signs that can tip you off.

First, you may notice something that looks like small particles or pellets. You might think it’s wood shavings that the termites leave behind as they eat. It’s not. These pellets are called “frass,” and it’s actually the termite’s fecal matter.

Check any wooden surfaces near the piles of frass you find. Do you see small holes? That’s where the termites are tunneling.

Another sign of termite infestation is wings. Termites need their wings to swarm, but once the females are fertilized, she sets up a colony which is happy to set up camp for a long while. Termites are "one and done" when it comes to flying, which means once they've settled on a spot to live, their airborne days are over and they shed their wings. If you notice a lot of little bug wings around a common area, chances are good your boat has been infested.

How to help get termites out of your boat

When termites infest boats, it’s important to take care of the problem immediately, just like you would if you needed termite control for your home.

Boat owners who are unable to take their crafts out frequently may not be able to keep a regular eye out for wings or frass. Left unchecked, a termite colony can grow out of control. If this is the case, your best option is probably tenting.

If this option doesn't work for you, a pest control service may be able to point you toward other solutions. But we wouldn’t suggest dragging your feet when termites infest boats.

Hopefully, you never walk below deck to find frass or wings near your wooden fixtures or supports. If you do, however, you’re now armed with some info that can help you figure out how to get termites out of your boat sooner rather than later.

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