Numerous insect pests are known for infesting homes in the United States, but homeowners are mainly concerned with termites. This is understandable due to the billions of dollars that US homeowners pay out-of-pocket each year to repair structural damages inflicted by termite pests. Termites are easily the most economically costly structural pests in the US, as well as in the entire world, and the wood-destroying pests infest more than 600,000 homes and buildings annually in the country.

Unfortunately, termite-related property damages are not covered under most homeowners insurance policies, and apparently, this is not common knowledge among homeowners. Unsurprisingly, many lawyers claim that disputes between property owners and insurance companies concerning termite damage repairs are among the most common lawsuits they encounter. In an effort to gain a better understanding of what the average US homeowner knows about termite pests, researchers at the University of Kentucky Survey Research Center interviewed 674 homeowners in order to test their termite knowledge.

According to the survey results, 28 percent of the homeowners had struggled with termite pests in the past, and 93 percent admitted that termites were a concern. While termites are certainly destructive pests, the survey found that homeowners overestimate the destructive capability of termite pests. For example, 92 percent of the respondents believe that a six month long termite infestation can result in severe structural damage, but in reality, termite damage progresses slowly during the first year or two following the establishment of an infestation.

When homeowners were asked to list some of the most common first signs that a subterranean termite infestation has been established, 56 percent mentioned finding damaged structural wood, and 39 percent mentioned finding dead swarmers (alates) indoors, both of which are correct. However, only 19 percent of respondents mentioned the presence of mud tubes on foundation walls, which is the surest and most commonly encountered sign that subterranean termites have established an infestation.

Very few respondents were familiar with the concept of integrated pest management, which is an environmentally friendly approach to pest control that is now practiced by all licensed pest control professionals in the country. Based on the responses gathered, most homeowners know little about termites beyond their tendency to infest and damage structural wood. However, a sizable minority of homeowners were found to possess a knowledge of termite pests that researchers deemed sufficient for making informed decisions concerning control options.

Do you think that you know more about termite pests than the average homeowner?