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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.
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.