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More than a dozen termite species are economically significant structural pests in the United States where they inflict billions of dollars in damage to homes and buildings every year. Several termite species can be found in the southern half of the country, particularly in the southeast where the subtropical climate provides termites with an abundance of dead vegetation and moist structural wood sources that colonies need to thrive. Naturally, termite pest issues are much less frequent in the northern half of the country where highly destructive termite species are entirely absent in some areas.

In the upper midwest, the rate of annual termite infestations is relatively small in number when compared to the number of infestations that occur in the northern coastal states. Surprisingly, the northeast is the only northern US region where termite pest activity is categorized as “moderate to heavy.” Based on this data, Boston and San Antonio are both considered comparable in terms of local termite pest activity. It is also worth mentioning that termite pest activity is categorized as “light to moderate” immediately north of Massachusetts in Vermont and New Hampshire, and the northern half of these two states, as well as the entire state of Maine, see “little or no” termite pest issues at all.

Of the three groups of termites, subterranean, drywood and dampwood, subterranean species are by far the most destructive. In the US, subterranean termites are responsible for inflicting more than 80 percent of all termite-induced property damage annually. Around half a dozen subterranean termite pest species throughout the US inflict damage to structural wood, and the eastern subterranean termite is the most destructive of all. This species is well adapted to surviving in temperate northern climates, and it is the most destructive termite species in most southeastern states as well.

In Massachusetts, eastern subterranean termite colonies are densely distributed below the ground, and several colonies containing more than one million individual termites each can join to form interconnected networks that span several square miles of urban and residential landscapes. This species’ absence from the northwest explains why the region sees fewer annual termite pest infestations than the northeast. In order to avoid costly termite pest issues, homeowners in Massachusetts should have professional termite inspections conducted on their property annually.

Have you ever encountered a swarm of winged termites while outdoors?