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The current number of termite species in the world varies depending on the particular source referenced, but the most up-to-date figures state that around 3,000 termite species have been documented worldwide. The United States is home to only 50 documented termite species, and most of these species are not categorized as pests. About 20 termite species have been documented as damaging property in the US, and all three termite groups are well represented in the country. These termite groups are known as subterranean, drywood, and dampwood termites, and subterranean termites are by far the most destructive and economically costly group of termites in the US, as well as the rest of the world.

While Massachusetts is home to only one termite species, this species, the eastern subterranean termite, is the most economically damaging species in the US. This is why Massachusetts is located in a geographic zone where termite pest activity is classified as being “moderate to heavy.” Homes located in this geographic zone should have termite inspections conducted on their property at least once or twice per year, and inspections are especially important in the northeast due to the abundance of older homes in the region which are particularly vulnerable to termite infestation. While the eastern subterranean termite is the only termite pest species native to Massachusetts, it is not impossible for other pest species to infest homes or finished wood sources in the state.

Drywood termites are native to the southern states, but drywood termites often establish infestations within wood items that are shipped to areas all over the US. The most common items that drywood termites infest include furniture, wooden ornamental objects, lumber, and the pests are frequently transported to northern states via shipments of plant matter. The western drywood termite is native to the southwestern US, but they have been found infesting items in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Minnesota, and even Toronto. However, it is exceptionally rare to find drywood termites infesting homes in the northeast, as colonies typically remain only within the wood items that they infest. Another subterranean termites, Reticulitermes virginicus, is also found in southern areas of New England, but their distribution does not extend beyond southern New Jersey. Homeowners in Massachusetts only have to worry about eastern subterranean termites, but the destructive potential of this species should not be underestimated.

Have you ever found a termite infestation within furniture or any other wood items within your home?