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Article 3 (Mar 2020): Unless you are moving in with penguins, it is time to think about termites
March 27, 2020There's only one place on earth that no one ever has to worry about termites: Antarctica.
Termites don't like the frozen frontiers, and really they don't like cold at all, but they manage to make do anyway. In North America, every single state and province can have termites, though the risk is lower the farther north you go and greater in the south. Of the three major types of North American termites, only one, the subterranean termite, has not been found in Alaska.
Wherever there is wood, there can be termites. That includes homes with brick foundations, manufactured homes, and the woodpile outside. Inside the home, the pest can hide its evil work until the damage is severe.
Three common types of termites leave different clues.
Drywood termites prefer warm and moist tropical areas. They leave piles of powder or pellets where they burrow. They can also cause wood to take on a bubbled appearance by tunneling close to the surface. From Florida to California, along all coastal areas, drywood termites can structurally weaken a home. You might notice swarms of winged insects in wooded areas. After these adult termites have mated, they shed their wings. You might notice discarded wings near windows or caught in spider webs.
Subterranean termites are the most destructive termite. Homeowners might notice swarms in spring when groups of termites go off to start new colonies. Once established, they live underground in enormous colonies, building mud tubes, tunnels they use to reach food sources like your joists. They can literally collapse a home entirely, according to PestWorld.org. In 2018, the National Pest Management Association built a tiny model home, exactly to specifications of a real home. Then it put a colony of subterranean termites in the group around the model home. In 50 days, the house was collapsed. In the U.S., termites cause $5 billion in damage every year.
Dampwood termites need very specialized warm, moist environments, according to the University of Florida. They are found in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. These pests need sources of water and are attracted to wood exposed to rainfall or even sprinkler irrigation. These termites can even infest living trees.
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