What You Need to Know About Termites in Illinois

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Termite damage is a risk for Illinois homeowners because—while only one type of termite is commonly found in the state—termites can quickly cause a lot of damage before they are discovered.
Fortunately, if you know the warning signs of a termite infestation and know how to deter these hungry insects from entering your home, you can prevent costly termite damage.
To help keep your house from becoming a meal for these hungry insects, home and car insurance broker and comparison app Jerry has compiled a guide to everything you need to know about termites in Illinois.

How to tell if you have a termite infestation

It’s easy to miss the signs of a termite infestation because termites rarely come into contact with humans. They often come into your house unnoticed through small cracks in your foundation and go to work secretly eating away at the wooden structure inside your walls and floors. A termite infestation can go unnoticed for months if you don’t know what to look for.
Luckily, these unwelcome visitors will leave some traces you can watch for including:
  • Discarded wings: When reproductive termites—the only termites in the nest with wings—join a swarm to start a new colony, they shed their wings. The discarded wings often accumulate near foundations and on window sills.
  • Mud tubes: Subterranean termites live in nests underground. To easily go between their food and home, they build mud tubes along cracks or gaps in your home’s foundation.
  • Hollow-sounding walls: If a termite colony has been munching holes into the structure of your house, you might hear an unusually hollow sound when you knock on your walls or wooden supports.
  • Hard-to-open windows or doors: Termites introduce moisture into the wood they are eating. If that wood happens to be your door and window frames, it can warp or expand and make them hard to open.
Other signs of a termite infestation are bubbling or peeling paint, tiny holes in drywall, droppings, and visibly crumbling wood.
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Are termites a problem in Illinois?

According to the Termite Infestation Probability Zones map established by the US Forest Service, Illinois is in Zone #2 (moderate to heavy). For Illinois homeowners, this means that a termite infestation is a possible risk.
The climate in Illinois is neither warm nor humid enough to host most termite species. The only variety that has established itself in the state is the subterranean termite, but drywood termites can sometimes make their way outside their typical range and into Illinois too.

Subterranean termites

Subterranean termites are the most common—and most destructive—types of termite in the United States.
Subterranean termites are smaller than other types of termites and live in large nests underground beneath near a good food source. Aside from the mud tubes they build as a bridge between their underground tunnels and a home’s foundation, they leave behind few traces. 
In Illinois, subterranean termites will gather in swarms during the daytime between March and May. Because termites only thrive in areas with enough moisture, swarms are most likely to happen on a warm day after a rainstorm.

Drywood termites

Drywood termites are not common in Illinois but have been identified there. They can be transported in lumber, furniture, wooden crates, or other wooden items and establish colonies in areas where they are not typically found.
These termites prefer to snack on wood in dry areas like attics or other upper-floor rooms. Alert homeowners may notice the droppings drywood termites leave behind, which look like small salt and pepper piles or sawdust.

What to do if you have termites

The best thing to do if you suspect you have a termite infestation is to have a termite control expert take a look at your house. Termites don’t pose any direct risk to your health but can do a lot of expensive damage to your home if they are not dealt with by a professional as soon as possible.
Because termites can be tricky to detect, preventing them from feasting on your house in the first place is crucial. Keeping them away can be difficult, but you can deter termites in Illinois by taking measures to prevent moisture build-up in your walls and foundation including:
  • Regularly cleaning your gutters
  • Repairing leaky pipes and faucets inside and outside your house
  • Using a dehumidifier
  • Installing weather stripping around doors and windows
You also can get your house professionally treated to prevent termites from making their way onto your property or returning if you have already dealt with an infestation. Depending on your situation, an expert will likely use either bait stations or liquid termiticide to keep your home safe from hungry termites.

How to save money on homeowners insurance

Most homeowners insurance policies don’t cover termite damage. Investing in preventative treatments and knowing how to recognize the warning signs that an infestation has already begun are the best things you can do to avoid costly termite damage to your home.
To prepare yourself for other costly disasters though, having the right homeowners insurance policy is essential. That’s why Jerry does all the work—for free—to get you homeowners insurance that fits your needs and your budget.
As a licensed insurance broker, Jerry will gather competitive quotes from top insurance companies, handle all the paperwork when you choose a new policy, and answer any questions you have throughout the process. If you want to save even more money, Jerry also will help you bundle your homeowners and car insurance to get you the best deal on both.
Jerry had a super simple app that was easy to navigate. And their terrific customer service made everything even easier. Plus I saved $700 in a single year.” —Lucia M.

FAQs

Illinois is not in the highest risk zone for termite infestations, but homeowners should still be on the lookout for signs of the destructive insects. If you suspect you might have a termite problem, the best thing to do is to contact a termite control service.
The timeline for termite treatments varies depending on the treatment. Bait stations require regular upkeep and should be maintained by a pest control company monthly or every three months. Liquid termiticides will typically provide protection for five to ten years before they need to be reapplied.

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