Everything to Know About Termites in Pennsylvania

aerial view of pennsylvania USA with termite image over it

Pennsylvania, roughly translated to “Penn’s Woods,” named after the English Quaker William Penn, truly embodies that name with vast stretches of forest and the warm, hospitable homes built within them.

But do you know who else finds the Keystone State’s wood and warm homes irresistible? Termites. Despite their minuscule size, termites in Pennsylvania are a big problem, gnawing away at wooden structures and causing millions in damages yearly.

Here’s what Pennsylvanians need to understand about their homegrown termite troubles.

Key Takeaways

Are There Termites in Pennsylvania?

Yes, termites certainly have made themselves at home in Pennsylvania. The state’s warm, humid summers create a cozy environment for these wood-hungry insects. They’re found all over the place: munching on homes, ruining buildings, and giving homeowners headaches.

Pennsylvania falls into Zone 2 of the Termite Infestation Probability Map, which means there’s a moderate to heavy chance that these critters could be planning an assault on your property as you read this.

Types of Termites in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, while you won’t find as diverse a termite population as in some other states, the types present are notable for their voracity and the damage they cause.

Eastern Subterranean Termites

Eastern Subterranean Termite (Reticulitermes flavipes)
Photo Credit: Ryan Watson / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 4.0

These are the main troublemakers in Pennsylvania. Preferring to build their colonies underground, a single colony can boast up to a million hungry termites ready to feast on your woodwork.

Scientific name: Reticulitermes flavipes


  • Workers: Creamy white; 
  • Soldiers: Brown heads and equipped with large jaws for defense;
  • Swarmers: Dark in color with translucent wings.


  • Workers: About 1/8-inch long; 
  • Soldiers: Slightly larger with formidable heads;
  • Swarmers: Roughly 3/8-inch long, wings included.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites closeup
Western drywood termite (Incisitermes minor)
Photo Credit: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, Bugwood.org / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

Although not native to the area, they occasionally show up in Pennsylvania, hiding within wooden furniture or other items moved from place to place. Unlike their subterranean cousins, drywood termites don’t require soil contact and can live exclusively within the wood.

Scientific name: Incisitermes minor


  • Workers: Pale, almost white coloration; 
  • Soldiers: Light brown with large mandibles;
  • Swarmers: Dark brown or black body with transparent wings.


  • Workers: About 3/8 to 1/2 inch long;
  • Soldiers: Similar size but appear larger because of their bigger heads and mandibles;
  • Swarmers: Usually around 7/16-inch long, including wings.

Termites in Different Regions of Pennsylvania

Northern PennsylvaniaCentral PennsylvaniaSouthern Pennsylvania
Eastern Subterranean TermitesEastern Subterranean TermitesEastern Subterranean Termites

When Do Termites Swarm in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, termite typically begin swarming between April and June when the weather begins warming up. This is when flying “swarmers” emerge from the colony in search of new places to establish more termite families. 

During May, the heart of the swarming season, you’ll see these tiny black cloud-makers most often. Make sure not to confuse them with other flying insects.

Signs of Termites in Pennsylvania

Catching termites early prevents widespread damage to your Pennsylvania home. These little critters can be hard to spot, but they leave behind clues that you can uncover. 

Here are some signs to watch out for:

different types of termite tubes
Photo Credit: Juan Rodriguez

Mud Tubes: Termites build mud tubes as protective tunnels when they travel from their underground nests to their food source. If you find these tubular paths around your home’s foundation or basement, it’s a big red flag that termites are around.

damaged wood with termites
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Wood Damage: Termites love the cellulose found in wood, so check your home’s wooden structures. If wood sounds hollow when you tap it or if you spot cracks and holes where there shouldn’t be any, it’s worth investigating for termites. Infested wood often has a honeycomb interior and, in severe cases, may even appear darker or blistered.

soldier termites exhibiting acoustic waves
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Clicking Sounds: Believe it or not, termites are not the silent eaters you’d imagine them to be. Soldier termites make clicking sounds by banging their heads against walls when they sense danger or if the colony is disturbed. If you hear such faint noise from inside your walls, especially at night when it’s quieter, termites might be the cause.

wings fallen off termites
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Swarmers or Discarded Wings: Swarming termites, or ‘swarmers,’ are future kings and queens looking to start new colonies. They’re usually visible in the spring. After swarming, they shed their wings, so finding discarded tiny wings around your home, often near windowsills or other light sources, is a sign of termite presence.

indoor termite droppings on floor
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Frass: It’s just a nicer term for termite droppings. Drywood termites, in particular, push their frass out of small holes near the entrances to their tunnels. If you see small, dark granules or piles that look like sawdust in or around your home, termites may be nearby. 

Eastern subterranean termites, the predominant species in Pennsylvania, don’t produce as much visible frass since they use their droppings to build their mud tubes, which makes detecting their presence a bit trickier.

Sticking Doors or Windows: Changes in your woodwork due to termite activity can result in misshapen doors and window frames that become difficult to open or close. Termites add moisture to the wood they consume, leading to warping and, thus, sticking or malfunctioning doors and windows.

water leak in the wall
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Bubbling or Peeling Paint: Another consequence of the added moisture from termite activity may be bubbling, peeling, or distorting paint. Often mistaken for water damage, this could actually be a sign of termites degrading the structural integrity of the wood beneath the paint.

Damage Under Exterior Wood or Siding: Sometimes, termites will begin their feast outdoors before moving inward. Look for signs of damage under wooden elements of your exterior, like steps, windowsills, or siding. If the wood crumbles easily or has an unusual pattern of decay, termites could be the cause.

How to Get Rid of Termites in Pennsylvania

Termites can mean major trouble for Pennsylvania homeowners, but there are multiple effective treatment options for eliminating these wood-loving pests. Tackling termites requires a thorough and dedicated approach to get rid of infestations and prevent future invasions.

Here are your best options for getting rid of termites in Pennsylvania:

1. Professional Liquid Soil Treatment

Applying high-pressure termiticide solutions to the soil is a common termite treatment method. How it works:

  • A licensed exterminator will dig narrow trenches around the foundation of your home, into which they inject insecticidal liquids.
  • They will also drill the solution into basement floors, masonry joints, and other deep areas to soak and penetrate the surrounding soil.

The solutions usually contain fipronil or permethrin. The liquids provide a chemical barrier that kills and repels termites attempting to tunnel toward the house. They can remain effective at preventing future termite invasions for 3-5 years, depending on product and climate conditions. Soil treatments may need to be repeated to lend ongoing protection.

2. DIY Termite Sprays

termite staff spraying on floors
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As a temporary DIY solution, Home Depot and Lowes carry over-the-counter termite sprays. They work by:

  • Directly spraying onto exposed termites to kill them on contact.
  • Coating surfaces to temporarily repel termites from the area.
  • Being replenished more frequently than professional methods.

DIY termite spray treatments can provide affordable temporary relief from nuisance termites or small localized infestations that pop up when you can’t access professional treatment. Unfortunately, these homemade solutions fade faster than the ones professionals apply. To prevent termites from coming back, you’ll need to respray weekly or monthly.

3. Termite Baits

anti termite baiting station
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Bait systems offer a targeted and effective termite-killing strategy by:

  • Placing bait stations in the soil or affected wood around a home.
  • Luring foraging worker termites to ingest the bait as food.
  • Spreading toxic effects back to the nest to eliminate entire colonies.

Bait stations contain a cellulose substance laced with slow-acting pesticides. The goal is to trick termites into feeling safe as they eat the baits over time, thinking it’s just part of their regular wood foraging rather than scaring them off at first contact.

This strategy lets the poison move slowly through the whole nest, eventually wiping out the entire colony in one deadly swoop. Typically, you can keep these bait stations up and running, checking and re-baiting them, for around 5 years.

4. Wood Treatments

Treating susceptible or infested wood with borate-based fungicides can deter termites. How it works:

  • Timbor and other borate solutions are manually sprayed or brushed onto vulnerable wood.
  • When termites tunnel into the poisoned wood, they ingest toxins and die.

Solutions like Ypor and Timbor are applied to vulnerable wood by actively spraying or painting them on. If termites dig into this toxic-treated wood, they’ll consume the lethal substances and die.

Borate-based treatments penetrate deep into wooden poles, decks, and fence slats at a molecular level. If termites attempt to later feed on treated sections, they ingest the poison.

Borate wood treatments are long-lasting solutions requiring a single application, and they will not wash out over time like other surface-level treatments.

5. Thermal Heat Treatments

Heating a property to lethal temperatures is an intensive termite treatment. The process:

  • Technicians place heating units throughout the home to increase air temperatures to 120 – 140°F.
  • Termites die when temperatures surpass 120°F for at least an hour, reaching the deepest nesting spaces.

Whole-structure heat treatments effectively penetrate every hidden void and crevice, ensuring termites hiding there meet their end. The intense heat bakes the termites within wood, flooring, and walls without damaging structures or contents.

6. Microwave Treatment

Local, targeted thermal energy in the form of microwaves has recently entered termite control. Applied via:

  • Special microwave generators are placed in termite-infested wall voids and crawl spaces.
  • Effective penetration of energy deep into wood and nesting areas.
  • Heating termites rapidly from the inside out.

Pest control experts can directly target heat energy in infested areas instead of heating the whole house. These lethal microwave treatments focus thermal damage at 120-150°F precisely on areas with confirmed termite activity from earlier inspections. They carefully monitor the application to prevent wood temperatures from getting so high that they could start a fire.

7. Fumigation Tenting

termites tenting on a house
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The most thorough termite elimination method involves encasing the entire property in a tarp and filling it with gas. It requires:

  • Completely sealing off the home in a protective tarp.
  • Releasing sulfuryl fluoride gas from canisters.
  • Airing out the home for a couple of days before re-entry is allowed.

Fumigation with sulfuryl fluoride gas penetrates the home’s wood framework into crawlspaces, furniture, and flooring. It also spreads below the foundation, extending into the surrounding soil to eliminate subterranean termite colonies near the home.

However, this method forces residents to leave their homes for about 3-5 days, as professionals must thoroughly air out the property until it’s safe for people to return. Due to its extensive nature, experts usually only suggest fumigation for severe, whole-house termite problems.

How to Prevent Termites in Pennsylvania

Battling termites is one tough gig, but with the right preventative measures and maintenance practices, you can deter these tenacious pests from making a meal out of your Pennsylvania home. Preventative actions include:

1. Prevention Landscaping

Certain landscape techniques make a property less hospitable to termites:

  • Installing a gravel perimeter border with at least 1-foot width around the foundation.
  • Using crushed granite or concrete instead of wood mulch near the home exterior.
  • Trimming tree branches and shrubs to not contact structure.

Using landscaping to prevent termite problems can be very effective. By removing any wood touching the soil near your home’s foundation, you take away an easy path for termites. Also, by keeping plants and bushes away from your house, you stop moisture from bridging over to the wood of your house.

2. Reduce Moisture Accumulation

person fixing leakage of a gutter
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Maintain your home’s exterior to avoid moisture buildup, which attracts termites:

  • Ensure gutters and downspouts are clear and direct water away from the foundation.
  • Fix leaky faucets, water pipes, and AC units.
  • Use dehumidifiers in crawl spaces, basements, and attics to keep areas dry.

While it might seem minor, these actions can significantly cut down the likelihood of termites gravitating toward your home for the moisture they need to thrive.

3. Regular Inspections and Maintenance

Keep an eye on your property with periodic check-ups:

  • Schedule annual termite inspections with a pest control professional.
  • Monitor for signs of termite activity, especially if you live in high-risk areas.
  • Address any concerns like cracks or holes in exterior wood immediately.

By staying vigilant and proactive, you can catch early signs of termites before they become a larger problem that could cause costly damage to your home.

4. Termite Barriers and Baits

termite barrier on house foundation
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Install defenses to stop termites before they start chewing through your investment:

  • Consider installing physical barriers during construction or renovation projects.
  • Set up termite bait stations around the perimeter of your property to detect and control subterranean colonies.

Remember that while do-it-yourself measures can be effective temporarily, long-term protection usually requires professional-grade solutions maintained by experts.

5. Seal Entry Points

repairman seals crack in the wall
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Block potential termite entrances into your home:

  • Seal gaps around pipes and utility lines entering through foundations.
  • Repair rotted roof shingles; termites are attracted to deteriorating wood.
  • Seal cracks and crevices in the foundation walls and concrete slabs with caulk or cement filler.

By taking care to seal off entry points thoroughly, you minimize chances for curious termite scouts to find their way into your house’s wooden structures.

Cost of Termite Treatment in Pennsylvania

Getting rid of termites doesn’t come free, but it’s far less costly than letting them chew away at your place unopposed. The national average cost for termite treatment falls between $275 and $863, but in Pennsylvania, the range typically lies from about $123 to over $1,060. The final price tag will depend on which method or combination of strategies is right for your situation.


Can termites harm people directly?

Termites don’t bite or harm humans. Their threat lies in the structural damage they cause to homes, which could indirectly lead to safety issues like weakened floors or ceilings collapsing.

Do DIY treatments fully eradicate termite problems?

DIY solutions might knock out visible termites temporarily, but without specialized expertise and equipment, homeowners can miss hidden colonies.

Can termites survive winter in Pennsylvania?

Yes, termites can survive the winter in Pennsylvania. Even though they’re out of sight during winter, they remain busy year-round. Termites typically move deeper underground or snuggle into warmer spots inside houses where the chill doesn’t reach them. They’ve been known to go as deep as 40 inches to escape freezing temperatures.

Do all houses need regular termite inspections?

It’s wise for every homeowner to get an annual inspection done by a qualified professional. This proactive measure helps catch potential threats before they turn into costly repairs.

When to Hire a Professional

The moment you suspect your home is hosting unwelcome termite guests is the moment to call in the pros. Termites work fast and silently; even small delays can add up to big bills. Pest Gnome can help connect you with the best termite professionals in Pennsylvania who can provide comprehensive solutions, from thorough inspections to personalized treatment plans.

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Adrian Nita

At Pest Gnome, Adrian Nita combines his expertise in writing with a deep understanding of eco-friendly pest control methods. Adrian is a nature enthusiast, and his outdoor excursions inspire his dedication to preserving the natural balance in homes and gardens.