Everything to Know About Termites in Michigan

aerial view of detroit michigan USA with termite image over it

Despite the freezing temperatures, Michigan has termites. In fact, termites are more common in Michigan than people may think: They are the most threatening wood-destroying pests in the state. Here, you will find everything to know about termites in Michigan, including what types of termites live in the state, what they look like, how to prevent them, and how to control them.

What Kinds of Termites Are There in Michigan?

graphic showing Subterranean Termites in a house
Photo Credit: Juan Rodriguez

The eastern subterranean termite (Reticulitermes flavipes) is considered the most serious wood-destroying pest in Michigan. Other subterranean termites are present in the state but are not as widespread:

  • Reticulitermes arenincola is found in the southwest corner of the state.
  • Reticulitermes tibialis (arid-land subterranean termite) is found in scattered localities of the state.

Drywood termites can occasionally appear through wood or furniture transported through other states, but they are not an established pest in Michigan.

Termites in Southern Michigan

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

According to the Termite Infestation Probability Map (see above), termite activity is concentrated in the lower part of Michigan and is more aggravated in southwestern and southeastern areas, from Grand Rapids down to Kalamazoo, and spreading east to cities such as Ann Arbor and Detroit. 

Termites in Central Michigan

The level of termite activity in the northern portion of Central Michigan ranges from none to slight. The lower portion of Central Michigan, however, has slight to moderate termite activity.  

Termites in Northern Michigan and The Upper Peninsula

Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are classified as not having termite activity or having slight termite activity because of the low winter temperatures. However, it is important to note that termites can spread even to these areas of the state, as heated basements make termite establishment possible almost in any place in Michigan.

What Do Termites Look Like in Michigan?

The easiest way to visually differentiate types of termites is by looking at the swarmers (the reproductives of the colony, also known as alates). Here’s what the termite swarmers in Michigan can look like:

Arid-Land Subterranean Termites on sand
Photo Credit: Andrey Zharkikh / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
  • Subterranean termites: Swarmers of the eastern subterranean termites are approximately 3/8 inch long (with wings included), with a light brown to black body. Subterranean termites nest in the ground and create mud tubes to access food sources above ground. 
Drywood termites closeup
Photo Credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0
  • Drywood termites: Drywood termites are a rare occurrence in Michigan. Larger than subterranean termites, they are typically 7/16 inch long and have a light brown to reddish-brown color. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites nest in the wood they infest and don’t need contact with the soil.

Signs of Termites in Michigan

Are you suspicious of a possible termite invasion in your fortress? Pay attention to the following signs of termite infestation in your home: 

different types of termite tubes
Photo Credit: Juan Rodriguez
  • Mud tubes along the home’s foundation or walls are a classic sign of subterranean termites.
  • Winged termites that come from inside the home. Termite swarmers in the outdoors are a normal occurrence and indicate a termite colony is nearby.
wings fallen off termites
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  • Discarded wings in windowsills or doors.
bubbling paint in the wall
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  • Bubbles in paint or warped wood.
  • Wood that sounds hollow when tapped.

On a side note: If you notice any signs of termite infestations in Michigan, they will most likely be of the subterranean type. But since drywood termites can appear occasionally, pay attention to termite frass near baseboards or other wooden materials, as it is indicative of a drywood termite infestation.

How to Prevent Termites in Michigan

termite inspections by a worker
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The first and most important step in termite control is to prevent them from invading your home. You can do that by maintaining a dry home, fixing any structural problems, and performing regular inspections. 

Here’s how you can protect your home from termites: 

  • Keep things dry: Termites are attracted to moisture, so ensure proper ventilation, especially in attics, crawl spaces, and basements, and fix any leaks or water accumulation around your home. Make sure the building’s grade is done correctly.
  • Avoid wood-to-ground contact: Keep wood materials away from your home’s foundation and don’t let climbing plants grow directly against the home’s structure. If you’re building or moving into a new home, ensure boards are not in direct contact with soil, and attached porches or decks are properly flashed. 
  • Invest in regular inspections: Contact a local pro to regularly conduct a termite inspection in your home for signs of termite activity.

If you come across any of the signs mentioned in the section above, your first option should be to contact a licensed termite control pro. They have the tools and expertise to get rid of termites for you.

How to Get Rid of Termites in Michigan

Since most termite infestations in the state are caused by subterranean termites, a pro can offer you two main termite treatment options in Michigan:

termite staff spraying on floors
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  • Liquid treatments: These chemical termiticides are injected or sprayed on soil or wood structures infested with termites. Liquid termiticides are also applied around the structure to create a chemical barrier against termites.
anti termite baiting station
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  • Bait systems: Bait stations are placed around the house perimeter, and if termite activity is detected, a slow-acting chemical bait is placed inside the station. Store-bought bait systems are available and can reduce a termite population but most likely won’t free an entire home of termites.

On a side note: After a pro assesses your home, they can also opt for using both methods combined to ensure efficacy. 

FAQ About Termites in Michigan

What Termite Treatments are Required to Build a Home in Michigan?

It depends on the lender and the location, but if you’re using an FHA loan, here’s how it works: To build a home in Michigan, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development requires a licensed pest control company to apply one of the following termite treatments:

  • Soil-applied liquid termiticide
  • Wood-applied liquid termiticide
  • Installation of a bait system
  • Installation of a physical barrier system

However, the Michigan counties that are in the Termite Treatment Exception Areas are not required to apply any of the mentioned treatments when building a house.

How Much Does it Cost to Have a Home and Garage Treated for Termites?

The cost for professional termite treatment ranges from $275 to $863. The end amount will vary depending on the size of your home, the severity of the infestation, what type of control measures will be needed, and your location. According to Michigan State University, the cost of termite treatments can reach $2,000 for an average-sized home in the state.

When Do Termites Swarm in Michigan?

Termites swarm in Michigan during the spring season, from March through June. 

Find a Pro Near You

When it comes to termites, DIY solutions just won’t do the trick. Termites can cause serious damage and are very hard to control on your own. Luckily, you don’t have to: Pest Gnome connects you to Michigan’s best termite control pros. Get in touch today and say goodbye to 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.