Many termite species thrive in the warm, humid areas where boats are common. In fact, subterranean termites are active around all of the lakes and rivers in the U.S. Some exotic species, including Formosan termites, first came to the U.S. via boats.
Termite prevention and control is just as important for boats as it is for homes. Wooden boats offer ideal conditions to termites – wood for food and shelter from the elements. Boats in the water or recently exposed to the water also have the moisture termites need to survive.
Termites are less likely to infest high-density wood, so it is best to buy a boat made with a large percentage of heartwood. You also can apply an insect repellent or an insect-resistant coating to the wood. This application can help reduce the likelihood of an infestation but will not completely prevent termite activity.
Boat owners should take precautions when storing their boats. If you dry dock your boat in winter and moor it off-shore for the remainder of the year, ask your termite control expert how to prevent and control any pests that may try to use your boat for shelter during cooler temperatures.
How to Detect Termite Damage on a Boar
A licensed termite inspector can help identify termite infestations on a boat using the same methods he or she would use for a house. The inspector can look for visual signs of termite infestations, include termite droppings. Newer technologies for identifying termite infestations include infrared scanners that can detect heat and moisture within walls.
Only a professional boat builder should repair termite damage to a yacht or boat, and only after the termite problem has been controlled. Termites can cause extensive damage to water vessels. Some boating magazines have reported that termite infestations are the probable cause for several boats sinking in recent years.