What to Know About Termites in Minnesota

Termites aren’t as prevalent in Minnesota as down south, but they can still wreak havoc on your home. Here’s how to spot the damage.
Written by Matt Terzi
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
They may not be as prevalent in the Gopher State as they are down south, but termites can do damage to homes in
Minnesota
. Subterranean termites are the most common species and can do a lot of damage to your home if left unchecked.
Termites are arguably the most destructive pests in North America. They chew up the wood in your home, including studs, flooring, walls, and more. They’re difficult to identify, too, and there aren’t as many over-the-counter pest control options as there are for other bugs.
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How to tell if you have a termite infestation

Termites are difficult to detect and properly identify, which plays a big part in why they’re so destructive. Many homeowners who encounter termites aren’t even aware their house is under attack until the damage starts to get obvious.
Subterranean termites can be a problem any time of year, even in heated homes in the winter. But they typically swarm on warm, rainy days between March and May
Here are the biggest warning signs you might be facing a termite infestation:
  • Bubbling or blistering wood flooring, as you’d expect from water damage. Eastern subterranean termites eat through subflooring and make the wood on top look indented or bubbled.
  • Bug wings found near entry points are often a warning sign of termites, too. When termites prepare for their mating season, they ditch their wings. You might find them near windows, doors, or vents.
  • Bizarre-looking mud tubes running along the foundation of your home. These are common with Eastern subterranean termites.

Are termites a problem in Minnesota?

The US Forest Service groups the states into four
termite infestation probability zones
. Homes in southern Minnesota are in the “slight to moderate” zone. 
Draw a line from Ortonville to Duluth, and you aren’t likely to run into termites of any variety north of that line, where the problem dips to a “none to slight” level.
There are two varieties of termites you might find in Minnesota, though one is far more common than the other. Let’s take a moment to learn about these termites.

Eastern subterranean termites

Subterranean termites are the most common in North America, and you’ll find Eastern subterranean termites in southern Minnesota. These termites live in underground colonies and tunnel into your home to eat wood, preferably anything soft or moist.
Eastern subterranean termites look almost like ants but are whitish-brown with big heads. That, coupled with the fact they work in the darkness of walls or basements or underneath floors, makes them significantly harder to detect than ants.

Drywood termites

It’s rare to find drywood termites in Minnesota, but they do occasionally make their way into the state by hitching a ride on wooden furniture or shipping crates.
Drywood termites are redder than Eastern subterranean termites. They tend to eat dry wood (hence their name) and are attracted to attics, bedrooms, and other dry areas in your home.

What to do if you have termites

Combating termites isn’t easy. Over-the-counter termites solutions found in stores have mixed results and can be extremely toxic to pets and children.
You’re better off hiring professional exterminators. It’s expensive, but they know how to identify termites and are equipped with several eradication methods, including:
  • Bait stations are similar to ant traps and are the least invasive treatment option. However, it can take weeks or even months for bait stations to have a noticeable result.
  • Soil treatments act as a liquid barrier that kills any termites that cross it. Exterminators dig little trenches around your home and fill them with chemicals, then fill in those trenches with dirt. 
  • Fumigation is the nuclear option, and it’s really only suggested when the problem is severe. You, your family, and your pets will need to vacate the house for at least 24 hours as exterminators put your home inside a huge tent and pump it full of deadly gas, which kills termites and any other insects in your home.
MORE: How to make a counteroffer after a home inspection

How to save money on homeowners insurance

Unfortunately,
homeowners insurance
rarely covers termite damage. But that shouldn’t stop you from investing in an affordable, well-rounded policy that can protect you from
the numerous perils
insurance does cover.
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FAQs

Yes, there are termites in Minnesota. They’re typically found in the southern half of the state, up to and including Duluth. You’ll most likely run into the Eastern subterranean termite in this state.
The termites you’ll encounter in Minnesota closely resemble ants, but they’re whitish-yellow, not black. It’s not always easy to see them, due to their color and their habit of staying in darker areas of your home, like inside walls and floors.
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