Up until the latter half of the 19th century, termites were not a common problem within structures located in Massachusetts, as termites are generally more abundant in humid, hot and tropical to subtropical environments. Today, the eastern subterranean termite has established an extensive habitat throughout the state, as this is the only American species that can tolerate the relatively cold climate in the northeast US. Eastern subterranean termites slowly moved up to Massachusetts along the US coast from the mid 19th to the mid 20th century. Once Massachusetts residents began to notice what looked like oddly erratic ant swarms, termites had become permanently established in every region of the state. Eastern subterranean termite alates swarm during the daylight hours from March to May in Massachusetts. Much of the time, swarms occur during a sunny afternoon the day after a rainfall. While numerous homes in Massachusetts were built before anti-termite features were incorporated into construction projects, homes that have been built within the last 50 years in the state likely include some preventative termite features. These features include termite barriers in the soil surrounding a home, elevated wood paneling to prevent termites from directly accessing structural wood from soil, improved ventilation to reduce moisture buildup, and concrete slab foundations that elevate a home above the soil’s surface. While such features have long proven effective at preventing termite infestations, many residents may not be aware of the simple things that they can do around their home to reduce the chances of falling victim to a termite infestation.

It is not exactly known how subterranean termites locate sources of wood for sustenance, but worker termites are understood to be the foraging caste, and they are responsible for expanding a colony’s foraging territory. The primary factor that makes a home susceptible to termite attack is moisture buildup. Simply removing plant debris from gutters in order to allow for improved water drainage is enough to drastically reduce moisture saturation within a home’s structural wood. The greater the moisture retention within a home, the greater the chances of infestation. Removing vegetation from crawl spaces also goes a long way to prevent termite attacks, as vegetation makes the soil beneath a home more saturated with water. One of the most important things a resident can do to prevent a termite infestation is to avoid stacking wood against a home, or placing mulch near a home’s foundation. Old tree stumps and other forms of wood and wood debris within a yard also serve to attract hungry termites onto Massachusetts properties.

Do you carry out tasks around your home to prevent termite infestations?