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Carpenter ants, wood-boring beetles, carpet beetles, clothes moths, silverfish, and several other groups of insect pests are known for occasionally damaging property within homes and buildings. The damage caused by these insect pests can be considerable in some infestation cases, but no group of pests, including rodents and wildlife, come close to matching the destruction caused by termites. While estimates vary, the cost of repairing termite damage falls between three and seven billion dollars annually in the US alone. Subterranean termites are responsible for causing around 80 percent of all termite-related property damage reported annually in the country, while less widespread species of drywood and dampwood termites are responsible for the remainder.

With the arguable exception of Alaska, subterranean termite pest species attack timber-framed structures located in every US state. Of course, the risk of falling victim to a termite infestation varies by region, as termite species are more diverse and abundant in warm southern states than they are in temperate northern states. The Pacific northwest is home to multiple subterranean and dampwood termite pest species, while only one termite pest species can be found in the upper midwest and northeast. Despite this, the northeast is the only northern region in the country that has been officially categorized by the federal government as a region with “moderate to heavy” termite pest activity. Because of this classification, termite-resistant building codes in Boston are more numerous and rigid than those in “slight to moderate” termite activity zones, which includes the Pacific northwest.

With the exception of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, all northeastern states are located in the moderate to heavy termite activity zone for several reasons. For one thing, eastern subterranean termites are far more prevalent in the northeast than they are in the upper midwest because the relative abundance of forested regions in the northeast sustains a much higher number of subterranean termite colonies. This also means that homes and buildings in Boston were developed on areas of land where subterranean termites were already prevalent, and most structures in the city were built long before termite-resistant residential building codes were enacted to protect structures from termite attack. These factors make structures in and around Boston relatively vulnerable to subterranean termite infestations.

Do you know if your home was built before or after termite-resistant residential building codes were enacted in the US?