The eastern subterranean termite is well established in the northeast states from Delaware all the way up to southern Maine, and even into eastern Canada. At least 45 termite species have been documented in the United States, more than a third of which are known pests to structures. Of all these species, the eastern subterranean termite is the most widely distributed species, and is the best suited species for temperate North American climates. Although the United States is home to a relatively small number of termites, the country sees the greatest degree of economic damage resulting from termite pest activity. According to a compilation of research studies, the cost of termite damage in the US lies somewhere in between 3 and 11 billion dollars annually. Considering the eastern subterranean termite’s wide distribution in the US, it should not come as a surprise to learn that this species is responsible for inflicting the lion’s share of this costly damage.
Unfortunately, termites are constantly expanding their habitat range in all areas of the world where they exist, and the domestic and international shipment of infested lumber is the primary means by which the insects invade new regions. Due to warming temperatures, the northeast US is becoming increasingly hospitable to a variety of termite species. While the eastern subterranean termite is currently the only termite species known to inhabit the northeast, some researchers believe that the R. virginicus termite species may have already reached Connecticut and Massachusetts. However, the possible spread of the Formosan subterranean termite into the northeast states remains the most alarming concern for homeowners in the region, as this invasive species is exceptionally destructive.
During the mid 2000s, rumors began to circulate that wood-mulch infested with Formosan termites would likely reach the northeast, but luckily, entomologists scoffed at this suggestion. According to a termite expert at Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences, while it is technically possible for the Formosan termite to arrive in the northeast via lumber shipments, the insects certainly would not be able to survive the mulching process. Furthermore, even if the Formosan species hitchhiked to the northeast states, the species would never be able to survive the region’s temperate climate. While this is good news, residents of the northeast must remain vigilant about having their homes regularly inspected for eastern subterranean termites, as central heating allows the termites to survive year round within homes in the region.
Have you ever heard of a termite infestation occurring within a home in the northeast states?