There are two types of homes in Massachusetts: those that have termites and those that will have them. Your home is your biggest single investment, so protecting it should be a top priority. Termites cost Americans hundreds of millions of dollars each year. That’s why it’s important to know about more about them.
We caught up with Woody, a subterranean termite and the most common types found in Boston, and asked him to set us straight about the habits and behaviors of these cellulose-eating pests:
How can the average homeowner identify a termite?
Well, we are a handsome group – about 1/8- to one-inch long, with two sets of same-length wings, six legs (which makes it hard to find shoes) and straight antennae. We’re a diverse group – our species can be white, brown or black. We are sometimes mistaken for flying ants, but I’m proud to say we can cause much more damage than ants or any other termite species for that matter.
What are the other types of termites found in Massachusetts?
Subterranean, which is the type I am, are the best and found most often. We live underground in colonies of as many as two million! We’re tiny but aggressive, and we prefer mud, sand, and moist areas above ground to live. We build tunnels or “mud tubes” to reach sources of food that gives us protection from open air. But once we get into your home, we can chew through wood and drywall at an alarming pace!
Our cousins are the Formosan Subterranean termites and they eat even more than we do! They look a lot like a flying ant, but I can tell them apart because the ant has a narrower waist, like an hourglass. But they are found mainly in very warm locations in the southern U.S.
Then there are drywood termites and they pose a unique risk to homeowners because they do not require as much moisture as we do, which is why they are not natural inhabitants of our state. Instead, they can live undetected inside wooden structures for long periods. By the time you notice clues to their presence, such as dried out wood pellets that have overflowed from their tunnel, large portions of your wood will already be unsalvageable and damage can be severe.
How does a homeowner know if they have termites?
We all behave a little differently, so the signs of termite activity depend upon the type of termites you have. My subterranean group is found underground; drywood termites burrow deep within wooden structures. How do we damage your homes? Let me count the ways:
- Discolored or drooping drywall
- Peeling paint that resembles water damage
- Wood that sounds hollow when tapped
- Small, pinpoint holes in drywall
- Buckling wooden or laminate floor boards
- Tiles loosening from the added moisture termites can introduce to your floor
- Excessively squeaky floorboards
- Crumbling, damaged wood
- Stuck windows or doors
- Maze-like patterns in furniture, floor boards or walls
- Mounds of drywood termite pellets, often resembling small piles of salt or pepper
- Piles of wings left behind after swarms, often resembling fish scales
- Mud tubes climbing the foundation of your home
- Flying termite swarms anywhere on your property
How can I get rid of you?
Why would you want to get rid of me? OK, well, I can eat you out of house and home. Literally. In fact, I understand that termites can lead to more than $5 billion in property damage each year in the U.S. And it’s usually not even covered by homeowner’s insurance. I suppose if you really were unhappy with us, you could schedule annual professional termite inspections. But why would anyone do that?
Protect your most valuable asset – your Massachusetts home – from termites and their damage. Get a no-obligation inspection and estimate from a termite control professional.