Regional Termite Information
Local Termite Activity By State in America
Different species of termites thrive in different climates, which means the type of termite likely to infest your home varies by region of the U.S. Warmer states typically have a greater number of termite species and larger populations of termites in general.
Choose your state:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Subterranean termites can survive in every U.S. state, except Alaska. The eastern subterranean termite is the most widely distributed termite in the U.S., found from Maine to Florida on the east coast and Montana to Texas in the central to western U.S. The western subterranean termite can be found from Washington state down to southern California and east into Idaho and Nevada. Other species of subterranean termites have adapted to more specific climates and therefore, have more limited distribution.
Formosan termites – a particularly destructive species of subterranean termite – have been identified in 11 states in the U.S., including Louisiana, Texas, Hawaii, California, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. Due to their large nest size, colonies of Formosan termites are capable of extensive damage in a short period of time. Despite this species” relatively limited distribution, Formosan termite control and damage repairs total approximately 20 percent of termite control and repair costs in the U.S. annually.
Drywood termites tend to live in warmer states such as California, Arizona, New Mexico, coastal Washington and Oregon, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and Hawaii.
Dampwood termites need very moist wood to survive, so they are not commonly found in homes. This species of termite typically can be found in the western U.S., including states from Washington to Montana and California to Texas, as well as central and southern Florida.
Other Termite Species
Florida is home to several exotic termite species not native to the U.S. that can only survive in tropical areas. For example, the Asian subterranean termite and the nose termite have been introduced to Florida from Asia and the Caribbean, respectively, likely via cargo or ships. These species have not spread to any other states. Hawaii is home to several termite species that are not established in other states. These species include the Indo-Malaysian drywood termite, the Hawaiian lowland tree termite and the Hawaiian forest tree termite.
The International Residential Code (IRC) developed a Termite Infestation Probability Zone (TIP Zone) map to guide its recommendations for including termite prevention measures in home construction. The TIP Zone map categorizes states as areas with very heavy termite activity (TIP Zone #1), moderate to heavy activity (TIP Zone #2) and slight to moderate activity (TIP Zone #3). The IRC building code requires that new homes built in areas with greater likelihood of termite damage have stronger protection against termite infestations. For example, residential builders in TIP Zone #1 may be required to work with a professional pest control company for pre-construction termiticide treatment around new homes.
Southern Charm: Why Termites Make Their Home in the South
he present distribution of subterranean termites in North America is probably very close to what it was when the Pilgrims arrived. The climate, soil conditions and available food supply in the southern U.S. favored the many species of native termites. Mild winters allowed for nearly year-round feeding and tunneling in the soil, the predominant sandy loam soil held moisture and was relatively loose, and the fast growing, short-lived pine trees in the region provided plenty of food. In general, these conditions have changed little, except termites now feed on the pine lumber in houses and not on the forest floor. Building practices during the early settlement of the southern states favored wood close to the ground, and houses with narrow crawl spaces and no basements.
The native subterranean termite species are still abundant in southern states, but not any more than they were originally. Several species have extended their range into northern states, to regions that did not have termites originally. But they are not as successful as their southern relatives. Soil conditions are rocky and often dry in the North because the region has lower rainfall; the winters are also long and springtime weather is erratic – both of which can disrupt swarming. The food supply in northern regions is primarily hardwoods.
The Formosan termite has joined the ranks of the native subterranean termite in the southern U.S. This species was introduced from Asia, and is now in states from Florida to California. As an introduced species it may not have the parasites and predators that the native North American species have, so it does very well. Formosan termite colonies are larger than the native species and their construction is slightly different, making this termite species more destructive.