what homeowners should know about termites

What homeowners should know about termites

Owning a home is most likely one of the biggest investments you’ll ever make. Although it may look structurally sound, there’s a chance that your home may be under attack, and has been for several years – without you even knowing.

Known as silent destroyers, termites are reported to cause $5 billion in damages to homes in the United States every year – although many experts believe this number is grossly under-reported. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that termite damage, on average, can cost a homeowner more than $3,000 to repair  – and that doesn’t include the cost of treating the termite problem. To make matters worse, homeowner’s insurance policies rarely cover termite damage.

Don’t take risks! We’ve got lots of information to help you win the fight against these silent destroyers.

Where do termites live in the U.S.?

Termites are found across the U.S. However, they are more dense in coastal areas and states where humid environments are prevalent. The map below shows a distribution of the three main species of termites and where in the U.S. you might find them.

Geographic termite pressures

Subterranean termites are the most prevalent species in the U.S. and can be found in states with milder winters. This species requires moisture.

Drywood termites do not need moisture to survive. They can be found across the lower half of the country and in California. They are also present in areas of Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

Formosan termites are the most destructive and primarily found in the Southern and Gulf states, due to high moisture and year-round warm temperatures. Florida and Texas face particularly tough battles with this species.

The further north you go, the less termite pressure you find. The Great Lakes area and the Northwest states have far fewer termite issues than other areas of the country.

What type of termites live in my area?

There are two main species of termites that may be problematic for homeowners living in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah — Western subterranean termites and drywood termites.

Subterranean termites

The Western subterranean termite is the most destructive species in California and requires a moist environment. It lives in the soil and feeds from the ground up, typically entering a building through the sub-structure. Homes with crawl spaces are at greater risk. It is here you should look for evidence of damaged wood and mud tubes.

Drywood termites

This species does not live in the soil. It lives and nests entirely in the dry wood it infests, typically entering structures near the roof line and other areas where wood is exposed. Inspect your attic for evidence of damaged wood. Look for tiny holes in the wood with evidence of frass (termite droppings) collecting nearby.

Termites can be found both in and outside, but tend to favor areas that can supply the resources they need. Regardless of the species, they all have one thing in common — wood! Porches, decks, woodpiles, and the structural beams of your home, can all become infested with termites.

How do I know if I have flying termites or flying ants?

The first sign that you may have a termite problem is if you see flying termites. Flying termites, also known as swarmers, are attracted to light and often seen flying around outdoor lights in the evening hours, or outside the windows of homes.

Flying termites and flying ants look very similar. However, there are some key differences to help you identify what you’re seeing.

what homeowners should know about termites

  1. Antennae – Termites have straight antennae; ants sport elbowed antennae.
  2. Wings – Termite swarmer wings have 2 pairs of wings, identical in length; ant swarmers have two pairs of wings of unequal length.
  3. Waist – Termite swarmers have a uniform body with no “waistline.” Ant swarmers have a segmented body with a thin waist.

Even with these differentiators, it may still be difficult to properly identify what it is that you’re seeing. If you need a professional’s opinion, contact a Western Exterminator Specialist.

Top 5 signs of a termite infestation

Knowing what to look for when it comes to termite activity can help to reduce the amount of time they have to feast on your home. If you see any of these 5 signs in or around your home, call Western Exterminator. We offer several minimally invasive solutions for controlling termites.

Swarmers

When the conditions are right for a colony to expand, reproductive termites will leave the colony to mate and form a new colony. These winged termites are referred to as swarmers. 

Different species will swarm at different times of the day and season. Subterranean swarm season begins in early March and continues through June. It can vary by several weeks depending on temperature and species. Drywood swarm season begins in June in warmer climates and can extend through late September.

Discarded wings

Once a newly mated pair finds a location to establish a colony, they will discard their wings. Finding discarded wings is often the first and only visible sign of a termite problem.

Mud tubes

Subterranean termites construct ‘mud’ tunnels to provide safe passage for travel or to protect their food sources. Often hard to see, mud tubes can be hidden behind your home’s sheet rock, underground, or found near the foundation.

Frass

Drywood termites are especially diligent about keeping their nests free of droppings. Because they live entirely in the wood they inhabit, you may notice this sawdust like substance along the floor in your attic or on the ground under the eaves of your home. Frass mimics the color of the wood they are eating. Subterranean termites do not leave behind frass. They use their droppings to construct mud tubes.

Damaged wood

If you notice damaged wood or if the wood in your home sounds hollow, appears soft, blistered, or breaks upon contact, termites could be to blame. Set up a free termite inspection with one of our Specialists to find out if your home has termites.

8 easy ways to keep termites away from your home

Both subterranean and drywood termites live in your area, therefore any preventative measures that help to reduce the likelihood of a termite infestation is a good strategy. Here are 8 tips from our experts to get you started:

  1. Elevate woodpiles or building materials, keeping them off soil
  2. Store firewood and scrap wood at least 20 feet away from your home
  3. Repair any wood that has water damage on the exterior or interior of your home
  4. Avoid moisture and condensation build-up on wood surrounding A/C units 
  5. Service any water leaks to avoid moist, favorable conditions for termite colonies
  6. Remove stacks of organic materials such as newspapers, magazines or storage boxes
  7. Seal cracks and crevices around the home to prevent easy access to wood
  8. Routinely inspect your home for signs of termites

Western Exterminator offers professional termite services

Western Exterminator offers a variety of termite protection plans that are specifically designed to target all types of termites. Our termite plans focus on preventing future infestations and eliminating active ones. No amount of termite activity is too big or small for our termite experts. 

Learn more about Western Exterminator’s termite protection services.

Extended termite warranty*
For the ultimate peace of mind, we also offer an extended termite warranty to keep your home protected for years to come. Your warranty will cover future termite damage and repairs, and retreatments. For more specific warranty information, talk to your termite Specialist.

*Limitations apply. See plan for details. Not available in all areas.

Not sure if you have termites? Get a free inspection.*

For a free termite inspection, give Western Exterminator a call at 888.444.6138 or contact us online. Our termite experts will quickly determine if you have any signs of termite activity and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

*Free inspection applies to current homeowners as of the date of the inspection who make use of the home as their primary residence.

Chad Gore, PhD

Chad Gore, PhD is an Entomologist/Market Technical Director at Rentokil North America.

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