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The real cost of termites and how you can protect your home

Termites are considered pests, but that term actually undercuts the true threat they pose to your home. Other pests may be disgusting (roaches) or dangerous (scorpions), but termites are unique in their capability to cause serious property damage.

Termites are a threat, and it’s important for homeowners here in the Valley, and nationwide, to understand that keeping termites out and treating termites quickly needs to be a top priority. In this article, we’ll review the scope of the termite problem and the steps you should take to protect your home from an infestation.

Termites: a natural disaster

Our industry is filled with On one hand, comparing termites to natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and earthquakes may seem a bit undeserved. After all, this is an insect smaller than a penny that we’re talking about. Yet, every single year, termites do more property damage than many other forms of natural disaster combined. In fact, termites are only surpassed in total property damage by hurricanes and cyclones. If you live in a part of the country that doesn’t experience hurricanes and cyclones, termites are probably the leading cause of property damage in your state.

So, it’s true that termites aren’t as immediate a threat to your home as, say, a tornado, thunderstorm, or earthquake. And they certainly don’t impact human life as much as any of those events. But, given enough time, they can cause serious damage and threaten the structural integrity of your home.

By the numbers: property damage caused by termites

Termites damage more than 600,000 homes every single year. That essentially means that this one pest damages the equivalent of a major American city on an annual basis (again: natural disaster). This results in homeowners paying a cumulative $5 billion to treat termite infestations and clean up the damage. That’s a mind-boggling number, so here’s something more relatable: the average homeowner who discovers termite damage to their property is going to need to pay about $3,000 out-of-pocket to fix it. Most home insurance policies see termite control as the homeowner’s responsibility, and do not cover the costs associated with treating termites or cleaning up the mess.

Of all this property damage, 90% of it is caused by subterranean termites. As the name implies, these are termites that travel through mud tubes in the ground until accessing a food source. There are many subspecies of subterranean termites in the continental United States, each with their own ranges and ecological niches. However, very few parts of the country are free of any termite activity.

Which parts of the country have it the worst?

There are very few areas of the United States that are completely free of any termite activity. It’s possible for homeowners in Fargo, North Dakota to get termites, just as it is for a condo owner in Miami, Florida or a renter in San Diego, California. While many subspecies of termite prefer warm, wet conditions, termites as a whole are pretty adaptable. That’s probably why they’ve been able to survive for millions of years relatively unchanged.

There are some areas of the country that have it a bit worse than others, however. Namely, the Sun Belt states. This region refers to the hot weather swath of the country extending from Southern California and the desert Southwest across the continent to the humid Southeast. Of the top-10 U.S. cities for termite infestations, all ten are in the Sun Belt, and nine of those ten are in the South.

Why is the South so hard hit? First, warm and wet conditions are ideal for many termite species—the South has that in spades. Second, an invasive species has arrived, and it has an appetite that puts most domestic termites to shame. The Formosan subterranean termite is often referred to as “the super termite,” and the moniker is earned. Formosan termites can cause serious property damage in as little as three months, and are capable of creating colonies of 15 million termites or more. Much like a natural disaster, Formosan termites can only be managed: once an infestation has taken place, it is impossible to remove completely.

Protecting your home

Guarding your home against termites should be a top item on your home maintenance checklist. One thing we recommend that homeowners in areas with subterranean termites do is regularly take a walk around their home and look at the foundation. Take note of any dirt or debris on the foundation and keep an eye out for the telltale mud tubes that many subspecies of termite—including the desert subterranean termite here in Arizona—use to climb the foundation and get into the home.

We also recommend taking proactive steps to make your home and yard less hospitable to termites. Keep timber, lumber, and firewood in a stored container instead of stacked up next to your home. Avoid excessive water pooling against the foundation by channeling water away from your home.

Call the local experts at KY-KO Pest Prevention

Think you might have termites, but not completely positive? If you live in the Phoenix metro area, call our team. We offer free termite inspections throughout the Valley. Our experienced and certified technicians know exactly what to look for, and will check for the telltale signs of termite activity. If termites are in your home, we’ll advise you on your next steps for treating the infestation and preventing any further property damage.

This infographic shows the real monetary costs of termites, nationwide, and how they can be considered a natural disaster in many communities.