Termites are active in Montana, but the state’s risk level is much lower than other areas of the country. You can find three species of termites in the Big Sky State, each one capable of doing significant damage to the structure of your home.
Every homeowner benefits from basic knowledge of termites, including how to spot an infestation and what to do about an active termite problem. If you don’t take action against these pesky insects, you risk tens of thousands (or more) of damage to your home.
How to tell if you have a termite infestation
Like ants, termites are busy little workers and excellent at hiding, so it may be tough to know they’ve arrived in the vicinity of your house. They are constantly foraging for cellulose—an organic compound in wood.
Knowing the early warning signs of a termite infestation can help you prevent serious damage to your home. Don’t overlook these fail-safe signs of a termite infestation:
- Discarded wings: A pile of discarded wings, especially around window sills, is a telltale sign you have a termite problem. Swarming termites are not good flyers and shed their wings once they land.
- Mud tubes: One of the most common indicators of subterranean termites is the pencil-thin mud tubes they construct from the ground up to their food source.
- Hollow-sounding walls: If you notice a hollow sound when knocking on walls or other wood installations, you may have an infestation. To examine closer, take a knife and test if the wood is soft.
- Droppings: Termite droppings, or “frass,” look like small piles of sawdust or salt and pepper. These pellets are found in piles below the infested wood.
Some other common indicators of an infestation are bubbling paint, swollen walls or floors, and very small round holes in drywall.
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Are termites a problem in Montana?
Termites are active in Montana, but more so in far western and eastern cities than in the central part of the state. Luckily, Montana is part of the none to light probability zone, the zone with the least termite activity in the US.
The following includes how and when to spot the three species of termites in Montana.
Eastern and Western subterranean termites
This species is a sneakier member of the termite realm. Subterranean termites build large colonies underground and then burrow into your home through the foundation, leaving hardly any evidence aside from their mud tubes.
You can look out for the eastern subterranean termites to swarm after heavy rainfall or on warm days between March and May.
The western subterranean termites swarm in the daytime during the local rainy season, winter, and early spring.
As the more common and most destructive type of termite in Montana, subterranean termites are the ones you need to watch out for. They can build colonies up to a million strong!
Drywood termites, as the name suggests, eat dry wood and are thus usually found in attics, foundation vents, and cracks around window frames. The biggest sign of drywood termites is the piles of droppings they leave behind.
Although drywood termites are not typically found in Montana, it’s possible for them to make their way into your home by hitching a ride on transported wood objects like crates and barrels.
Arid-land subterranean termites
Though still a threat, arid-land subterranean termites cause less damage to a home then their distant cousins.
These termites consume cut wood, brush, dead tree limbs, and animal manure. They are found in areas with plenty of sun and little water. Arid-land subterranean termites swarm during June and July.
Key Takeaway Even in low activity zones like Montana, three species can do damage to your home’s foundation, attic, or other wood on your property.
What to do if you have termites
If you spot signs of termites in your home, act quick! There are lots of ways to attack these busy wood eaters, and they’ll do significant damage if left alone.
There are plenty of options for having termites professionally treated. Treatments approved by the EPA to be used by licensed professionals include:
- Bait stations: This is the least invasive approach to traditional termite removal. Small plastic containers are filled with a termite bait and placed around the perimeter of your house. Bait stations are slow-acting, allowing the infected termites to return to the colony and spread the bait to others.
- Liquid pesticide barrier: If you have subterranean termites, a pest control company will apply a lasting chemical moat of termiticide within the soil around your home that will kill any termites that attempt to breach it.
- Fumigation: For major infestations, professional pest control companies will suggest fumigation. This involves covering the entire house in a tent and spraying gas into the home to kill all termites in the structure. All family members and pests must be removed for 24 hours.
If you think you may have a termite infestation, call your local pest control company right away.
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Be aware that homeowners insurance policies will not cover termite damage—so knowing the warning signs of an infestation and acting quickly is your best defense against a major financial loss.
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Do most homes in Montana have termites?
Termites are not as common in Montana as other states, such as Florida. However, that doesn’t mean your Montana home is never at risk of termite damage. Every homeowner should be prepared with a termite protection and treatment plan.
How often should you treat for termites in Montana?
That depends on the type of treatment recommended by your pest control service. Most bait stations need to be monitored four times a year. A liquid pest barrier could protect your home for up to five years before you’ll need another treatment.