If you own a boat, you might not be aware that termites could invade your craft. In fact, boats have sunk due to undetected termite damage to a wooden hull. So, how do you know if termites are lurking on your boat and what can you do to get rid of them? Read on for some helpful information.
Why would termites attack your boat?
Termites eat anything with cellulose content, including wood, paper, and cardboard. Therefore, if your boat has a wooden hull or plywood linings, it could be attractive to colonising termites.
The outer parts of your boat are probably made from heartwood, giving it strength and durability. The interior fixtures and supports are likely to be made from a soft wood, such as pine. Because the soft wood is easier for termites to eat through and digest, they could form a colony deep inside the sheltered interior structure of the boat without being detected.
You should also bear in mind that fibreglass vessels often have plywood linings, leaving them open to attack by termites.
How to spot termites on your boat
In the springtime when the weather warms up, winged termites swarm in search of mates and a new colony site. Be especially vigilant for flying termites and for piles of discarded wings around your boat; this could indicate termite activity around the craft. The best way to identify a termite infestation is to ask a professional pest controller to check it out for you. They are experienced at detecting the smallest sign of termite activity that an untrained eye could easily miss.
Treatment and prevention
You can make your boat less susceptible to termite infestation by choosing a vessel that is constructed primarily of high-density heartwood. It's also worth applying an insect-resistant coating to the hull, which may deter termites.
Treating infested boats can be tricky, because the vessels are usually on or near to the water. This means that some insecticides and termiticides cannot legally be used as they could pollute the marine environment. For this reason, it's best to consult a pest control specialist for more advice if you think that your boat has been attacked by termites.
In cases of severe infestations, the only way to get rid of the pests is to dry dock the vessel so that it can be 'tented' and fumigated.
If you have a wooden boat, you are advised to have it inspected annually for termites by a pest control specialist, especially if you dry dock it during the close season.