Everything to Know About Termites in Kentucky

termites on soil

Kentucky’s warm summers are just what termites love, and that’s why the state has a significant potential for termite activity. Subterranean termites are the most common and, sadly, the most destructive type. But don’t worry, because here we bring you everything you need to know about termites in Kentucky, from how to identify them to how to get rid of them. 

Common Types of Termites in Kentucky

Termite Infestation Probability Map, Adapted from the 2021 International Residential Code
Photo Credit: PNNL

The Bluegrass State has moderate to heavy termite activity, so yes, termites can be bad in Kentucky. The state’s most common termites are the subterranean termites, which, unfortunately, are regarded as the most destructive type of termite

The subterranean species found in Kentucky are:

  • The eastern subterranean termite (Reticulitermes flavipes)
  • The light southeastern subterranean termite (Reticulitermes hageni)
  • The dark southeastern subterranean termite (Reticulitermes virginicus)

Termites across the state, from East Kentucky to Louisville and Western Kentucky, are all part of the subterranean termite type. 

What Do Termites Look Like in Kentucky?

Termites are easily mistaken for ants, but they are fundamentally different. Termites are more closely related to cockroaches than ants. By taking a closer look at their swarmers (alates), you can differentiate between termites and ants:

illustration showing termite and ant illustration
Photo Credit: Juan Rodriguez
  • Wings: Termite’s four wings are equally sized, while ants’ wings are larger in the front and shorter in the back.
  • Antennae: Termites have straight antennae, while ants have an elbowed antennae.
  • Waist: Termites have a broad waist, while ants have a “pinched” waist.

Additionally, subterranean termites can look quite similar. Differentiating between species can be hard even for specialists, and many times, microscopic analysis is needed. But you can pay attention to some visual features of winged termites to identify a termite species:

  • The eastern subterranean alate is about 3/8 inch long (wings included) and has a dark brown to black body. Wings are translucent and have a smoky-grayish color.
  • The light southeastern subterranean alate is the same size as the dark southeastern termite but is lighter in color (hence the name), having a yellowish-brown body. Their translucent wings have a brownish hue.
  • The dark southeastern subterranean alate is slightly smaller, reaching about 5/16 inch long with wings. The body is also dark brown to black, but the wings are completely translucent and clear.

Signs of Termites in Kentucky

side by side image of mud tube and damaged wood by termites
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Mud Tube: zimmytws / Canva Pro / License
Wood Damage: frank600 / Canva Pro / License

Termites are usually silent invaders, but they can leave traces of their presence behind. The signs of termites in Kentucky are the typical indicators of subterranean termite infestations:

  • Mud tubes on foundations, sills, joists, or running up walls. They look like veins of dirt, with the approximate width of a pencil. Subterranean termites build these tubes to transit between the soil and the food source protected from the dry air and possible predators.
  • Winged termites, commonly called “swarmers,” come from inside your home. You might see disposed wings along the edges of the floor or on window sills. Swarmers coming from the outdoors are not necessarily indicative of a termite infestation, it just means a colony may be around.
  • Hollow or damaged wood with crusts of mud or soil. If, when you tap the wood, it sounds hollow, this might indicate termite damage. Subterranean termites eat wood along the grain and line mud or soil on its surface.

Keep in mind that these signs might pass unnoticed for years since early detection of termites requires the expertise of a professional. 

Termite Prevention Tips for Kentucky

an image of a man spraying pesticide on the left and an image of a plumber fixing pipes on the right
Photo Credits:
Spraying Pesticide: surachetsh / Canva Pro / License
Fixing Pipes Leakage: Alexander’s Images / Canva Pro / License

Prevention is the best start to a termite control plan. Here are some termite prevention recommendations from the University of Kentucky:

  • Avoid wood-to-soil contact: Wood in contact with the ground facilitates the access of termites to your home structure. All wooden materials should be at least 6 inches above the ground. Eliminate wood in contact with the ground. Even pressure-treated wood is vulnerable to termites, as they can infiltrate through small cracks.
  • Keep the foundation dry: Termites love moisture and will be attracted to humid soil. Fix any leaking pipes or faucets and ensure your drainage system is working well. Sprinklers should be installed at a safe distance to prevent water from puddling around your foundation. Your crawl space should also be kept dry and free of debris.
  • Store firewood away: Any wood material should be stored away from the walls, foundation, or crawl spaces, as they allow termites to enter the structure. Termites will eat firewood and anything that contains cellulose, so this rule also applies to newspaper and cardboard boxes.
  • Use less mulch: Mulch attracts termites because it can retain moisture, which subterranean termites love. So, if you’re going to use mulch, don’t exceed a couple of inches and never close to wood siding and window or door framings. 
  • Call a pro: A professional pest control company can apply termicide barriers to keep them at bay and perform a termite inspection in your Kentucky home. Some even offer termite bonds, a service that includes yearly inspections to prevent termites or detect early termite activity.

How to Get Rid of Termites in Kentucky

a man installing termite bait station
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You have termites. What should you do now? Well, your first option should be to contact a licensed pro. There are two termite treatment options in Kentucky — liquid treatments and baits, that can be used alone or combined. Here’s how each of them works:

  • Liquid treatments: Liquid non-repellent termiticides are injected or sprayed in the soil to eradicate present termites or form a protective barrier against new termites. Repellent termiticides are only efficient as a protective barrier. 
  • Baits: Bait stations are installed above-ground or in the ground in the targeted area. Once termite activity is detected, these stations are filled with a cellulose material that contains a termiticide. Termites will feed on this material and slowly, the number of termites will be reduced. 

    Some termite bait systems are commercially available as a do-it-yourself termite control option in Kentucky. While they can, in fact, help with the termite numbers, they act slowly and can hardly eliminate the entire colony. 

Because of this, it is not recommended that you DIY your way into termite control. When it comes to termites, calling a pro is the best option. A licensed termite control service in Kentucky will be able to assess the severity of your infestation and which method (if not the two of them combined) is the best option for you.

Cost of Termite Extermination in Kentucky

The national average cost for termite control goes from $275 to $863. However, the end cost will vary depending on the treatment type and the size of your infestation. Still, termite treatments are a better option than expensive damage repair, as termite damage repair costs approximately $2,600. The end price for termite damage repair in Kentucky can vary. 

FAQ About Termites in Kentucky

Are There Drywood Termites in Kentucky?

Drywood termites are not established in Kentucky.

At What Time of The Year do Termites Come Out?

Subterranean termites typically swarm in the daylight hours of spring and come out in Kentucky between March and May. But each species has a preference that can influence when they begin to swarm:

  • Eastern subterranean termites usually swarm from February through April.
  • Dark southeastern subterranean termites prefer to swarm from April through June. 
  • Light southeastern subterranean termites typically come out from July through September.

What Other U.S. States Have Termites?

Termites are present in all U.S. states, except for Alaska. 

Find a Pro Near You

The bad news is that termites are a threat to homeowners in Kentucky, but the good news is that Pest Gnome connects you to the best termite control pros in the state. Get in touch today and be free from worries (and termites).

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Teresa Joaquim

Teresa is a creative writer who holds a Master's degree in Psychology. Despite being a nature lover, she is terrified of cockroaches. As a native of the tropics, she is used to dealing with mosquitoes, although they still manage to bother her. Her favorite things are art, music, and playing with her two cats.