The risk of falling victim to a termite infestation within your home varies by region. The degree of termite pest activity in Massachusetts is considered “moderate” as opposed to “heavy” and “light”. Termite infestations are particularly likely to occur within older homes in coastal states, which may explain the relatively high rate of termite infestations in Massachusetts relative to other northern states. Considering the abundance of eastern subterranean termites in Massachusetts, it is important for residents to recognize termite damage on structural wood, as well as how to recognize which areas of a home are most vulnerable to termite damage.

Subterranean termites leave behind few signs of their presence in wood, even after they have eaten their way into a piece of wood. It is rare to find termite damage on the visible surface of structural wood, as termites typically travel through connected pieces of lumber. It is a widespread myth that painted wood is avoided by termites, and this claim has no basis in fact. Surprisingly, recognizing termite damage is, in some ways, easier when the wood they are infesting is painted. For example, when termites infest painted wood, bubbles often appear on the painted wood’s surface. It is also worth noting that the galleries that termites excavate in wood are, in most cases, visible on the surface of infested wood. These galleries most often run parallel with the grain of infested wood, and it is only in a minority of cases that these galleries run perpendicular to the grain. Galleries often contain visible mud or sandy deposits. Termites create these deposits out of a mixture of fecal matter, saliva, and soil before applying it to their internal galleries and tunnels. Doing this reinforces the structure of the galleries and tunnels within wood. However, most termite infestations are not found by identifying particular signs of termite damage on structural wood; instead, it is the presence dead swarmers, feces (frass) or mud tubes along the sides of a house that alert homeowners of a termite infestation.

Have you ever found termite infested wood within your home?