Termites in Massachusetts
Termites are known for their ability to cause extensive damage to wooden structures, and they can be difficult to control once they establish themselves in an area. There are several things that you can do to help prevent termite problems from developing, and it is also important to be aware of the signs of termite activity so that you can take action quickly if necessary.
What Do Termites Look Like?
Termites are small, winged insects that range in color from white to brown. They are often mistaken for ants, but there are several distinct differences between the two.
- Termites have straight antennae while ant's antennae are bent.
- Termites also have a broad waist while ants have a narrow waist.
- Termites' wings are of equal size while an ant's hind wings are smaller than its front wings.
While most people think of termites as wood-eating pests, there are actually many different types of termites that eat different things. Some termites eat dead leaves, others eat soil, and still, others eat wood. Needless to say, the type of termite that is most likely to damage your home is the wood-eating variety.
Types of Termites in Massachusetts
Though the Subterranean Termite is the most common, there are many several species of termites in Massachusetts. It’s important to know what each of these looks like so you can identify an infestation early on.
Eastern Subterranean Termite
Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite found in Massachusetts and the only type native to the area. These insects are small – about ½ an inch long – and pale in color. Their wings are equal in size, and they have a straight waistline.
Drywood termites are slightly larger than subterranean termites, measuring about ¾ of an inch long. They are dark brown or black in color and have wings that are a bit longer than their bodies. Their waists are also not straight, but curved.
The largest type of termite you’ll find in Massachusetts is the Formosan termite. These pests can be up to 1 inch in length and are dark brown or black. They have long wings and a narrow waist.
Dampwood termites, measuring up to ¾ an inch in length, is aptly named, as it is commonly found in damp or rotting wood or mulch. They are light brown or yellowish-brown and have wings that are much shorter than their bodies. Their waists are also very thick.
Signs of Termites
There are several early warning signs of termites that homeowners should be aware of in order to help prevent an infestation or catch one early.
- Termite Wings: If you find piles of wings near doors or windows, it’s likely that termites are swarming in your home. Swarming is how termites reproduce, and it generally happens in the springtime.
- Hollowed-out Wood: This is perhaps the most obvious sign of termite damage. If you tap on wood and it sounds hollow, there’s a good chance that termites have been munching on it.
- Sawdust: In some cases, sawdust can collect near wood surfaces— a sure sign that termites are present and actively eating away at the wood.
- Mud Tubes: These small tunnels are made out of mud and are used by termites to travel from their nests to food sources. If you see mud tubes on the exterior of your home, it’s a good indication that there is an infestation inside.
- Discolored Paint: If you see paint that is bubbling or peeling, it could be a sign of termites. The insects release gas as they eat away at the wood, and this gas can cause paint to blister.
- Cracks in Drywall: Termites will sometimes eat through the drywall in search of food. If you see cracks or holes in your drywall, it’s a good idea to have them checked out.
- Termite Droppings: Termites leave behind small, pellet-shaped droppings known as frass. If you see frass in your home, it’s a good indication that there is an infestation.
If you see any of these signs, it's important to contact a professional pest control company immediately to get rid of the problem before it gets worse. A trained eye will be able to spot the signs of an infestation, and they can advise you on the best course of action.
How to Prevent Termite Damage
The easiest way to prevent termite damage is to prevent termites from even getting into your home. Here are a few tips:
- Eliminate Moisture: Termites are attracted to moisture, so eliminating sources of dampness in and around your home is crucial. Be sure to fix any leaks, repair any cracks or holes in your foundation, and ensure that your gutters are draining properly.
- Remove Wood from around Your Home: If you have firewood, lumber, or other wood materials stored up against your home, it's time to move them. These can attract the pests and quickly lead to an infestation, so make sure to store them at least 20 feet away from your house.
- Keep an Eye on the Landscaping: Make sure that there is no vegetation or mulch touching the sides of your home. This includes trees, shrubs, and bushes. All plant life should be trimmed back so that it doesn't provide a bridge for termites to get to your home.
- Inspect Regularly: Even if you take all of the necessary precautions, it's still important to inspect your home regularly for any signs of termite damage. This includes looking for cracks in your foundation, holes in your woodwork, or any other changes that may be present.
If you think you may have termites, it's important to contact a pest control professional as soon as possible. With 125+ years of experience, Ransford Pest Control offers exceptional termite treatment options, during which our experienced exterminators are able to inspect your home and determine if there is an infestation. If there is, we will work with you to recommend the best course of treatment. Call us today at 508-756-5197 to get started!