LEt'Termites are by far the most destructive wood destroying organism (WDO) in North America. It is estimated that they cause $5 billion+ in damage annually compared to $200-300 million by the second worst WDO offender (carpenter ants). The average cost to remove Termites can top $3500 and that does not guarantee they will never come back or include the cost of major structural repairs.
How much of a danger are termites to homes in Nova Scotia?
First, the good news: as of the date of this post (September 2021) while termites have been detected in areas with a similar climate such as Maine and Southern Ontario, we do not have verifiable evidence of termite infestations in Nova Scotia and they current do not pose a threat whatsoever. However, there is more to the story than saying there is no danger of termites.
In reality, not only do we have other less destructive WDOS such carpenter ants, carpenter bees and longhorn beetles, but with climate change there is a strong possibility that termites can potentially take root in our province in the near future, especially if they are accidently introduced such as what likely happened in Toronto in the 1930s. While all WDOs are destructive, the termite is by far the biggest danger to homes. This is because unlike carpenter ants for example who only chew wood (usually moist) to clear room for nests, termites eat wood and will target even healthy, dry wood.
Even worse, termites can be extremely difficult to detect and can cause untold destruction before leaving any evidence of their existence. Making it worse, they can be almost impossible to detect during a standard home inspection and even trained pest control experts can miss termite infestations.
As much as I hope termites never make it to our province, they are being spotted in more and more northern areas of North America all the time and it is foolish to think we are immune. Here are some quick signs of termite infestations:
The biggest difference between carpenter ant and termite damage is twofold: not only are carpenter ants not as destructive but are generally much cleaner and leave more evidence. After all, much like us humans they are usually looking to build a nice home and not to literally eat us out of house and home like termites! As well, thanks to our cold winters, even the worst hit areas of Canada are nowhere near as bad as the southeastern United States. Even being in a very low risk area I would not be completely shocked if in the next few years termites are discovered in the Maritime Provinces as they are rapidly heading in our direction.
I am a home inspector that regularly compares notes with other inspectors and inspection companies throughout Canada and the United States. To say that termites can cause problems to homeowners is the ultimate understatement. Let's hope that if you are reading this in the future we still do not have any termites in our province.