Termites in the United States by Region
What is the probability that your home will be infested with termites? There is no government agency that tracks the spread of termites, we rely on profession pest control companies to report termite damages in the regions they serve, and they do a good job. Pest control companies are the go-to authority for information needed; they are only required to report the treatment and migration of Formosan termites which are especially aggressive.
Back to the question – what is the probability of your home being infected – One of the easiest ways to understand your risk is to look at the Termite Infestation Probability Map. This map illustrates the areas that are more prone to termite infestations based on termite activity levels.
As you can see, unless you live in the very northern states the probability is good that you will have an occurrence of termites at least once in your lifetime. This is not meant to rattle you; it is meant to give you the information you need to keep your property safe from termites.
Regions in the United States Populated By Termites
The map below shows regions populated by termites in the United States a greater number, and type of termites live in the southern states; they like the warm and mild climate. States bordering the southern part of the country contain every termite species known to reside in the United States: Subterranean, Drywood, Formosan, and Dampwood termites. (dampwood termites rarely infest homes – they will be included later in this discussion) The northern states show very little termite activity because of the colder climate – termites colonies would freeze in the winter – therefore they stay away. In the middle of the country, there are Subterranean and Formosan termites.
Subterranean termites by far cause the most termite damage and there is a greater danger of infestation by subterranean termites to homes in the United States than any other termite.
The Formosan termite is the most aggressive and economically devastating in the United States and the world – these pests destroy wood very quickly because of their large populations, and their colonies share interconnecting foraging galleries in the soil. The Formosan termite is found in Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas – AND once established this pest has never been eradicated from the area.
Formosan termites are the most destructive termite in the United States making their homes in the south where the weather is warm and mild. In Hawaii, these pests can structurally damage a home within six months.
Subterranean = most damage, Formosan = most destructive. Although a Formosan termite is classified as a Subterranean Termite it does not need soil contact; it builds above ground nests in trees, attics, and walls.
The chart below will open your eyes! Subterranean Termites are found in every state within the United States. Infestations in the warmer southern states are more prevalent than in the colder northern states. Pests move from one state to another through zonal creep, and as our world gets warmer this phenomenon will occur more and more. Also, pests are carried in furniture as people move to different states.
Termites Found By State in the US
The map below shows termites swarming season during the spring, note the difference between this map and the map above. During swarming, the area that termites cover expands greatly, most swarming occurs in April and May. A homeowner that is aware of this can take precautions in the month of March when it starts getting warmer to protect their property proactively.
During swarming season termites are more aggressive than any other time of the year, and people ask “Are termites harmful to humans” or “Do termites bite?” Termites are not harmful to humans and are not know to carry disease, but people with allergies can have adverse reactions. Termite nests kick up dust and microscopic particles that float around and are picked up through the heating and cooling system that can cause an asthma attack or allergic reaction. And YES, termites can bite although their bite is non-toxic – termite soldiers are formidable foes if their colony has been invaded (mainly by ants). Every creature bites especially when cornered.
Termites are more aggressive during the spring time because it is their mating season. They are fulfilling their destiny which is procreation of the species, and through the metamorphosis of growing wings, they fly in a frenzy of delight. Only an established colony (around 5 years old) can produce swarmers. This is why it is important for homeowners in the United States to start their yard work in early spring. Inspect your home and property for termites twice a year ‘early spring’ and ‘fall’ – remove any fallen wood, dying trees, waterlogged wood, and replace wooden mulch because it does attract termites.
The top four causes of infestation are Moisture, Wood or Wooden Structures – that come in contact with soil, Openings – in the home’s foundation, roof, or walls, and just plain old Geography.
Firewood, lumber, cardboard boxes, newspapers around the outside of the home can attract termites. Remove these sources of cellulose and reduce the risk of infestation.
Florida, California and Hawaii are the three states in the US that contain all four types of termites that infest homes in America. Be very vigilant with preventative measures if you own a home in these states. Termites will not stop consuming wood until you stop them!
Dampwood Termite require high humidity and free water, and unlike subterranean termites, they do not forage in soil.
They rarely infest dry wood, and they will rarely infest a home, with these exceptions: homes or structures built over or very close to water, wooden structures that have water rot, wood buried in the ground around water.