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The annual cost of termite control and damage repairs in the United States exceeds 5 billion dollars, and a large part of this annual cost can be attributed to the pest activity of one species, the eastern subterranean termite. Experts estimate that the annual cost of repairing termite damage alone is around 2 billion dollars in the US. In fact, termites end up costing homeowners in the US billions of dollars per year before termite control efforts and damage repairs even begin. For example, the annual cost of termite damage inspection and the removal of damaged wood from structures amounts to 2 billion dollars in the country, and most home insurance policies do not cover structural termite damage costs. This means that nearly all homeowners in the US end up paying for expensive termite damage and control costs out-of-pocket.

Eastern subterranean termites invade homes from the ground up, which results in damage to some of the most important and expensive lumber components at the base of a home’s structure, including wood girders, sills and joists. Since eastern subterranean termites are abundant in Massachusetts, it is important that residents have regular termite inspections carried out in their home by a licensed pest control professional. Homeowners can also inspect their property for termites, and most reputable pest control websites describe the presence of “mud tubes” on a home’s foundation to be the most common and noticeable sign that a home is currently infested, or had been in the past. However, these termites often leave behind many visible clues that indicate their presence in a home, including interior and exterior wall damage, and sagging floorboards.

While subterranean termites excavate wood located in exterior and interior walls, they sometimes poke a hole on the surface of walls accidentally. Since subterranean termites must avoid the desiccating effects of outside air, workers immediately patch the hole with mud, resulting in a visible mud spot, or “pinhole” on a wall. Spotting pinholes on the walls of a home indicates the current or past presence of termite pests. If an active infestation exists, then scraping these mud spots off of walls will prompt workers to re-patch the hole, but if the holes are not re-patched within a few hours, the pinholes must have been made during a past infestation.

Have you ever found individual termite workers within a home?