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Termites in Idaho

When I was in college I returned home to visit my parents in southeastern Idaho. While visiting I learned that they recently learned they had termites doing damage to their house and had just gotten them treated. Luckily, they were able to catch the problem before significant damage was done to their home. They did have to make some minor repairs, but insignificant compared to the damage that could have occurred had the problem continued undetected.

Up until that point, I had no idea that termites were found in Idaho. That may sound funny since I was in college, but I always thought they were found mostly in the southern United States and that we didn’t need to worry about them here.

The US Forest Service created the Termite Infestation Map that identifies areas where termites are found in the U.S. This map divides the states into Termite Infestation Probability Zones. These zones are:

  1. None to slight
  2. Slight to moderate
  3. Moderate to heavy
  4. Very Heavy

Idaho Falls in the Slight-Moderate zone with states such as California, Florida, etc. falling in the “Very Heavy” zone. To view the map, click here.

Types of Termites

Dampwood, Drywood, Formosan and Subterranean termites can all be found in the United States. The Subterranean is the most common and is also the one that is most often found in Idaho. Dampwood termites are very rarely found here because they require such a high moisture level. Formosan and Drywood termites haven’t been found in Idaho.

One difference between Subterranean termites and the other varieties is that they live in colonies underground. They feed on cellulose found in wood and other material such as carpet. They are also known for building mud tubes to transport food back to their colony. These mud tubes are about the width of a pencil and are necessary to help the termites keep a moist environment.

Termites are often able to cause damage without being noticed because they are frequently misidentified as flying ants. Termites have a straight waist and antennae and both of their sets of wings are the same size. Flying ants, on the other hand, have waists that are pinched in the middle, and one of their sets of wings are larger than the other set.

Signs of Termites

If you think you may have termites, here are some signs to look for:

  1. Wood damage-termites eat from the inside out, so the wood they leave behind sounds hollow
  2. Discarded wings-Flying termites lose their wings shortly after finding a mate
  3. Warped door and window frames-as the termites eat the wood it can change the shape, causing doors and windows to not close easily
  4. Painted walls beginning to bubble/peel
  5. Flying termites-they are attracted to light so you may find them near lighting fixtures, windows, doors, and vents
  6. Mud tunnels-subterranean termites will have mud tunnels running from their food source back to their colony. Check for them around the foundation of your home.

It takes time for a termite colony to become mature and create significant damage. The colony matures in 3-5 years and it can be up to eight years for the damage to become obvious enough that the homeowner will notice. At this point, the damage is extensive and very costly. For this reason, it is a good idea to regularly check for termites and take the following cautions to prevent them.

How to Prevent a Termite Infestation

  1. Try to eliminate moisture around your home; especially near the foundation. Make sure that you have functioning rain gutters and that the downspouts divert water away from the house.
  2. Quickly repair any damage to a rotted roof/facia/sofit, etc.
  3. Don’t store firewood near the house.
  4. Try to keep an 18-inch distance between any soil or mulch and any wood portions of the home structure. Wooden decks can be an inducement for subterranean termites because the wood and soil are in direct contact.
  5. Regularly inspect around the foundation of your property. Damage caused by wood-boring insects is often not covered by insurance, and so early detection can save a lot in the long run.

If you think you may have a problem with termites, we have technicians professionally licensed with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture who are able to identify and treat structural destroying pests, such as termites. We are also able to perform termite inspections required by some lenders in order to process a home loan. If you have any questions, feel free to give us a call! We would love to help and can have you visit with one of our licensed technicians. To learn more about other pests we control in Idaho click here.