Get Rid of Termites on a Boat and Hull | Kill them with fumigation

How to Get Rid of Termites on a Boat and Hull

Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter


Termites are widely distributed pests and can infest virtually any structure that is made of wood. The common misconception about termites is that they are ground-based insects, which is true, but termites always scout new places to feed and colonize by flying during the mating season, which means they can land and infest any structure containing cellulose. One such structure that surprises many people is boats, which are usually docked in moist areas where termites congregate.

How to get rid of termites on a boat and hull? Termites can infest the wood parts of boats and the most effective method for killing them is through tenting with a powerful fumigant. Boats can also be treated with more traditional methods to kill termites.

Termites on boats may sound outlandish, but it is a common occurrence, specifically in humid regions bordered by water. You will likely find drywood termites on boat structures that are made of wood and even fiberglass. Drywood termites would thrive better on a structure like a boat compared to subterranean termites who prefer access to the earth.

tenting a boat for termites

How Do You Kill Termites on a Boat and in the Hull?

When first deciding how to kill termites on boats, you will want to either discover or seek out evidence of termite activity. Also, coming to terms with the question of can a boat have termites is the true first step, since the realization of “yes†to this question is no doubt puzzling. If you discover wings, frass, or tunnels with many tiny exit holes, this is clear evidence of drywood termites on boats; treatment procedures should begin immediately just as they should if you discover termites in your home.

1. Termite boat tenting

After discovering termite evidence on your boat, you will need to consider how you would like to address killing them. A boat provides a lot more room to maneuver than a house and fumigation becomes a much more attractive process since a boat can be fully enclosed during the termite boat tenting process, with no escape to the ground below. Fumigation works by enclosing the boat in a durable tent and administering a powerful chemical in the form of a gas for several hours; this can only be done properly by a pest control professional.

2. Treat infested wood with insecticide

The fumigant will seep deep into the wood of the boat and is one of the most effective methods for killing termites on boats. Boat termites fumigation is an assured process to eliminate the problem, but hopefully the infestation is not as severe to warrant this, and the colony has only infested a few pieces of wood. If so, you can easily replace the infested wood and treat the new wood with a powerful termite residual insecticide such as Delta Dust, which is water-resistant and will continue to kill new termites on a boat for up to ten years.

If the problem is more severe and the termites have infested critical components of the boat and fumigation is not an attractive option, you can treat the wood yourself. For this method, you will want to invest in a powerful termiticide such as Taurus SC, which will soak into the wood and termite tunnels, killing the colony over time with a six month residual. You will need to be thorough in your application and ensure that all the wood of the boat is saturated in the chemical.

3. Take the hull apart to treat termites inside

If termites are in the boat hull, the problem is increasingly more dangerous, since this is the part of the boat that keeps water out. If you discover termites in the boat hull, your options for self-treatment are made increasingly more difficult. You would have to take the hull apart to effectively kill the termites inside the boat.

4. Call a professional pest control company

Boat termite fumigation is the best method if termites have infested the hull. The chemicals can seep into the deep parts of the hull to kill the termites with ease. Since the hull is a difficult area of the boat to treat, it may be beneficial to have a pest control professional address this part of the boat.

termites eating wooden boat hullRelated Termite on Boat Questions:

What Type of Termites Can You Get on a Boat?

 Most types of termites can infest a boat, but drywood termites on boats are usually the main culprit. Drywood termites move away from the ground and are attracted to wood types that aren’t moist, as is the case of other types of termites. Additionally, Formosan termites are a species of termite that primarily lives outdoors and is attracted to wood in moist areas.

Can a Boat Get Drywood Termites?

Drywood termites are usually the most popular termites on boats as they prefer to live primarily inside of wood unlike other species. Drywood termites will typically leave many warning signs that include obvious indentions and physical damage to wood, as well as the appearance of sawdust-like frass around wood. Since drywood termites live inside of wood, it is important to know the warning signs such as frass droppings, tiny exit holes, and discarded wings.

Can You Get Formosan Termites in a Boat?

Formosan termites are probably the second most prevalent termite that you would see infesting a boat. Because of its large population size, a Formosan subterranean termite colony can cause more structural damage in a shorter time than even a drywood colony can. Wood products that are infested by Formosan subterranean termites may be recognized by tapping the wood with a hard object; in severe infestations, Formosan subterranean termites hollow out wood, leaving a paper-thin surface.

Formosan termites usually find their way to boats much in the same ways that other termite species do—by flying and scouting for a new colony during the mating season. Formosan subterranean termite can form colonies that are not connected to ground, called aerial colonies. If a pair of alates successfully find suitable conditions, i.e., adequate food and moisture sources in a boat, they can initiate a colony with no ground connection—which is how Formosan termites find their ways to boats.

Formosan termites on boats—due to the boat’s proximity to water–, are ideal places for the Formosan subterranean termite to initiate aerial infestations if portals of entry are found. You can treat for Formosan termites much in the same way that you would treat for subterranean or drywood termites, with fumigation being the best option if the colony has grown out of hand. This species of termite is very invasive and travels a lot further than other termite species to find a suitable place for a colony such as a boat.

In Summary

Termites are incredibly versatile and exploratory insects that will travel far and wide to find a suitable food source that can also house their colony in relative peace. This doesn’t always include your house as a viable option; termites can also infest boats. If you discover the signs of termites in your boat, such as the appearance of frass, exit holes, or hollow or structurally damaged wood, treatment procedures should begin immediately.

Drywood and Formosan termites are the two species of termites that will typically infest the wood of a boat. Once their activity is discovered, the most viable option for complete termite elimination of the boat is to utilize fumigation via tenting, which will ensure termite mortality. Fumigation will seep deep into the wood of the boat and the tent will contain the poison with the termites giving them no place to escape from it.

If fumigation is not a good option for you, you can treat the boat yourself with a range of products such as a bug bomb or Diatomaceous Earth that both kill and repel future termites from infesting the boat. Termites on boats may seem hard to believe, but they most certainly will infest a boat. If you discover signs of termites, address the issue immediately to avoid potentially dangerous boat malfunctions from occurring over time.



Share on facebook
Share on pinterest
Share on twitter
Mike Henderson
Mike Henderson

Mike is a pest control operator from New York with over 15 years experience dealing with a wide range of pests. He shares his knowledge on this blog and provides useful information to help you combat pests on your own.

For severe infestations and professional advice you can also request a free pest control quote here.

Recent Posts
Scroll to Top
FREE Pest Control Quote
Before you go request a free pest control quote in your area! You will receive a call back from a pest control specialist.