Chew on this: What homeowners should know about termites

Tiny Destructors: Termites



For most people, their home is one of the biggest investments they will make in their lifetime. Yet some are completely unaware of dangerous pests that can literally destroy your home: termites.  

Termites are reported to cause $5 billion in damages to homes in the United States every year – although many experts believe this number is grossly under reported. The United States Environmental Protection Agency estimates that termite damage, on average, can cost a homeowner more than $2,500 to repair1  – and that doesn’t include the cost of treating the termite problem!

Given that hefty price tag, homeowners should know what they are up against. Luckily, we’ve got lots of information to help you win the fight against these tiny destructors – and we’re here to help you protect your home. And remember, preventative termite protection plans are a cost-effective way to guard against termites (and protect your wallet from a hefty termite damage repair).

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Click the image to view the full infographic.

Termite Species

There are three main species of termites that are problematic for homeowners in the United States.

  • Subterranean termites – The most prevalent species
  • Formosan termites – The most destructive species
  • Drywood termites – Least known species

Geographic Distribution of Termites

Termites are found across the U.S., however, they are more dense in coastal areas and states where humid environments are prevalent. The map below shows a distribution of the three main species of termites and where in the U.S. you might find them.

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Although the Subterranean termites are the primary species in the Southeast, you will find Formosan and Drywood termites in some areas.

Formosan termites dominate in the Southern and Gulf states, thanks to high moisture and year-round warm temperatures. Florida and Texas face particularly tough battles with these termites.

Drywood termites can be found across the lower half of the country and in California.

The further north you go, the less termite pressure you find. The Great Lakes area and the Northwest states have far fewer termite issues than other areas of the country.

Understanding How Termites Work & Conditions That Favor Termites 

Termites and moisture go hand-in-hand. These tiny pests need moisture to do their destructive work.

So how do termites work? They start by building mud tubes out of the soil, working their way up to wood in your home. The more susceptible the wood in your home is to moisture, the easier it becomes for termites to take advantage of it.

Termites can be found both in and outside, but favor areas that are warm and wet. They, of course, love areas that have lots of wood – porches and decks, wood piles, and the structural beams of your home, to name a few.

Identifying Termites & Signs of a Termite Problem

The first sign that you may have a termite problem in your home is the presence of termite swarmers. Termite swarmers fly to spread their colony to different places. One of the main places people may begin to see termite swarmers is around outdoor lights in the evening hours, or swarming near your windows when you have lights on inside.  

However, don’t be confused! Termite swarmers and flying ants, or ant swarmers, look very similar. Ant swarmers are not as destructive as termites. There are some key differences to help you identify termite swarmers.

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  1. Antennae

Termites have straight antennae; ants sport elbowed antennae.

  1. Wings

Termite swarmer wings have 2 pairs of wings, identical in length; ant swarmers have two pairs of wings of unequal length.

  1. Waist

Termite swarmers have a uniform body with no “waist line.” Ant swarmers have a segmented body with a thin waist.

Other than swarmers, here are some signs that may help you spot a termite problem.

Termites Mud Tube

  • Mud tubes. While often hidden in inconspicuous places, if you spot mud tubes anywhere near your home, you should call a termite professional immediately.  

Termite Infestation

  • Frass. Termites leave behind droppings as they build their tubes and damage wood. You could see the frass left behind. 

Rotted Wood House Eaves

  • Damaged wood. If you see wood that is damaged, or wood anywhere in your home appears soft or breaks upon contact, termites could be to blame. 

What Can You Do To Prevent Termite Problems

Homeowners can take some key actions to protect their homes from potential termite problems.

  • Avoid wood to soil contact
  • Keep wood away from the structure of the home
  • Don’t stack wood against the house
  • Don’t stack wood directly on the ground
  • Repair water damage right away
  • Manage condensation from the AC unit
  • Make sure water drippings aren’t damaging wood below
  • Having any water leaks fixed right away so that the environment doesn’t become favorable for termite colonies

Do You Think You Have A Termite Problem?

Give Ehrlich Pest Control a call at 800-837-5520 or contact us online. We will be happy to come out and conduct an inspection for you. We can also offer you year-round termite protection plans to help reduce the likelihood that termites will attack your home.


Chad Gore, PhD

Chad Gore has a Ph.D. in entomology and is the Market Technical Director with Ehrlich Pest Control. He also serves in a volunteer capacity as a Technical Advisor to the Pennsylvania Pest Management Association.

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