What You Need to Know About Termites in Rhode Island

Despite Rhode Island only having two types of termites, the state is still considered at high risk for termite damage.
Written by Rachel Juillerat
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Rhode Island
only having two termite species, homeowners are still at high risk of termite damage on warm, rainy days between March and May.
If you already own a home or plan on buying one in this tiny but might state, then you need to get the 411 on termites, including how to identify an infestation, when to expect a swarm, and what to do if you discover termites in your home.
Termites are gross, and generally, we like ignoring bugs, but that puts your home at risk of serious damage. That’s why
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has compiled a guide on everything you need to know about termites in Rhode Island. 
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How to tell if you have a termite infestation

Undetected termite swarms can cause significant damage to your house. That’s why termites are so dangerous; they’re incredibly hard to detect before they cause costly damage.
Fortunately, there are three signs to look out for to detect a termite infestation. Keep an eye out for the following:
  • Discarded wings: Flying termites, known as swarmers, fly around in the spring. You will likely notice their discarded wings near wooden entrances, such as windowsills and doorframes. 
  • Mud tubes: Dispute what you may think, termites don’t live in your home; they live underground and tunnel into your home for food. You can find tiny mud tubes (earth-caked tunnels) from the ground into wooden structures, often in basements in cellars. 
  • Small holes: Termites burrow tunnels as they eat through wood, creating a honeycomb-like pattern. You might see tiny holes in wooden materials around your house, indicating a termite’s presence. 
Termites might also show other signs of invading your home, including peeling or bubbling paint, swollen walls or floors, and tiny round holes in drywall

Are termites a problem in Rhode Island?

Though Rhode Island is a smaller state (at least geographically), termites can exist anywhere. The Termite Infestation Probability Zones (TIP Zones) ranks Rhode Island as Zone #2, meaning it faces moderate to heavy termite infestations and faces a significant risk for home damage. 
That said, there are only two species of termites to watch out for. 

Subterranean termites

Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite in Rhode Island, and, unfortunately, considered the evil genius in the termite world. This is because they are notoriously hard to detect. They burrow underground in sprawling colonies and then tunnel their way through your house’s basement or cellar into the wooden structures of your house. 
You can typically spot them on a warm day after a rainfall, usually during the day between March and May. Though not as active during winter, they might find their way into warm parts of your house, like near a furnace or chimney. 

Drywood termites

Drywood termites are not native to Rhode Island, which means they pose a lower risk to your home. That said, they like to hop between zones in wooden furniture or wine crates. 
These termites are active year-round, so keep your eyes open for them regardless of the weather or time. 

What to do if you have termites

DIY solutions for a termite infestation rarely work. Some treatments involve the use of harsh chemicals and, if used improperly, can pose a risk to your family. So be sure to call a professional if you notice signs of termite presence on your property. 
An exterminator will likely use a combination of the following four methods:
  • Bait stations: Exterminators will leave small plastic containers with food sources, like wood or cardboard, around your house to attract and kill termites. This can take months to work and is best used in conjunction with other methods. 
  • Liquid pesticide barrier: This method is for subterranean termites in particular. An exterminator will dig a moat around the perimeter of your house to spray a chemical onto the soil. This acts as a barrier the termites won’t cross. 
  • Fumigation: Exterminators cover the entire house with a tent and pump in gas that kills all the termites in the building. Everyone in your household, including pets, will need to stay out of the house for at least 24 hours.
  • Structural: In this method, wooden features of the house will be replaced with non-cellulose material, like plastic, to prevent further termite intrusion. Since termites are drawn to moisture, ensuring the house has proper drainage, especially in basements and cellars, is also very important.

How to save money on homeowners insurance

Termite damage is preventable with proper attention and preventive measures, meaning that most
homeowners policies
will not cover termite damage. 
That said, there are many types of home damages that a home insurance policy can cover, so it’s important to take your time choosing the right policy for your needs to ensure you have the best financial support in the case of an emergency.
If you’re not sure how to find the right policy for the best price,
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Because Rhode Island is located in TIP Zone #2, it is fairly common for homeowners to deal with termites at some point. That said, proper preventative measures will lower your risk significantly, leaving it to be a problem for your neighbors instead.
Depending on the type of treatment your home has, you will need to replace baits every year or look into pesticide sprays every five years. That said, most exterminators have warranties of ten years, so review your exterminator’s policy to see if you need to reapply treatment before the warranty expires.
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