Termite infestations are by no means uncommon in Massachusetts, but unlike many other states, Massachusetts is home to only one termite species, the eastern subterranean termite. The eastern subterranean termite is the most destructive and widespread termite species in North America, and they are particularly destructive in the northeast due to the abundance of older homes that were not designed to prevent termite infestations. While the vast majority of expert sources claim that the eastern subterranean termite is the only termite species that dwells in Massachusetts, a tiny minority of sources claim that a second and far more obscure termite species also exists in the state. This second species is officially known as R. arenincola, and it too is a subterranean termite.

Very little information concerning the territorial distribution of R. arenincola has been published in scientific literature, but there is another good reason as to why even most experts are unaware of this termite species’ presence in Massachusetts. As it happens, R. arenincola swarmers (alates) look almost exactly like the alates of the eastern subterranean termite species. For example, alates from each of these species are dark brown to black, each are 8 mm in body length, and each swarm at the same time of year in Massachusetts. Not only do both of these termite species swarm during the month of May, but each alate also has a wingspan that measures around 6 to 7 mm and each species swarms at dusk and during the dark of night.

Some sources claim that R. arenincola is established only in Massachusetts, while other sources claim that R. arenincola has been found among termite species collected from sandy areas surrounding Lake Michigan. Experts seem to agree that this species inhabits sandy coastal areas, so it is likely that R. arenincola inhabits the coastal region of Massachusetts, and they are likely well established in Cape Cod, Nantucket Island and Martha’s Vineyard. However, this species’ precise distribution in Massachusetts is currently unknown.

Were you under the impression that more than one termite species inhabits Massachusetts?