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Numerous insect species in the northeast inflict damage to structural wood within homes and buildings. The most significant wood-damaging insect pests in the region include powderpost beetles, carpenter ants and termites. While the black carpenter ant species is largely considered the region’s most common structural pest, these ants are not nearly as destructive to structures as the eastern subterranean termite species, which also infests structures in the northeast at rates well above the national average. In fact, experts claim that 1 in 3 homes in and around Boston and Charlestown will, at some point, sustain some degree of termite damage. This is likely the case in other southern New England states as well, as both the eastern subterranean termite and the dark southern subterranean termite have established long-ranging and shared colony networks spanning large areas of the eastern US. Furthermore, recent genetic research suggests that several additional subterranean termite species that have not yet been identified may also share a habitat with these two species.

The eastern subterranean termite in Massachusetts establishes below-ground colonies that contain between 60,000 and 1.5 million individuals. Research has shown that an eastern subterranean termite colony containing 250,000 individuals consume around 1 cubic foot of wood each year, but many homes in the northeast are located above multiple colonies. Even in areas where termites are this abundant, homes can be protected as long as residents keep moisture levels low both within and around their homes. It is also important to keep leaf-litter and other lawn-waste as minimal as possible on a property, and firewood should  never be stacked against a house. Perhaps most important, cosmetic and structural wood on a home should never make contact with the ground soil, and keeping structural wood at least six inches above the ground surface is essential.

Have you ever encountered termite damage on any wood structure, such as fences, mail-box posts or utility poles?