Home Damaging Insects and Insurance

Insects and Insurance, TJ Woods Insurance Agency, Worcester, MARecently making some waves in the news was a scientific article about insects in your home. And while your home is probably graced with the occasional fly, spider, or beetle that wanders in from the great outdoors, this article was instead about the hundred (or thousands) of tiny insects that roam around your home. Normally you can’t see them and they are generally harmless. However, while you might have symbiotic relationship with the arthropods who eat dust and other insects, there are some ones you need to watch out for. More than pests that get into the pantry or bite you while you’re sleeping, these pests can literally bring the house down on you.

The Three Insect Homewreckers

For the purpose of this article, we’re going to cover insect that damage the house itself, and not the grounds. Insect that kill grass, trees, and other plants are numerous, but not as big a risk to your physical home as those which can destroy the walls, floors, and ceilings of your house.


Nothing strikes fear into a homeowner like the word “termite.” Since termites chew through wood they tend to stay at the core and not surfaces, they can be very hard to find until it’s too late. Normal termites are known as subterranean termites, which helps figure out what places are at risk, as well as spotting where they get access to your home. Subterranean termite colonies start underground in buried wood: it’s only when they run out of the initial food source (termites convert the cellulose in wood to sugar), they form shelter tubes (aboveground tubes of dirt) to find another food source. Inspect your home for these shelter tubes, paying close attention to low-lying wood.

Drywood Termites

Termites spend their time below ground to avoid the freezing winters. However, in places where the temperature doesn’t drop that low (California coast, lower regions of southern border states, and Florida) a second species of termites exists: the drywood termite. As the name suggests, these termites start colonies in any source of dry wood, including that of a home. While they do not have the telltale shelter tubes, they do push their spoor outside the colony. Search for images of “drywood termite droppings” to learn more. If you find only wood powder, you might be dealing with powderpost beetles instead.

Carpenter Ants

While most ants are pests only interested in raiding your cupboards for sugars, carpenter ants are their bigger, badder cousins who are more interested in eating the actual cupboard. While their native habitat is nesting in above-ground cavities such as tree stumps, they are known for nesting in the wooden walls of homes, or even in the insulation of attics (they do not need wood as their only food source). If you think you’ve got carpenter ants, you should investigate water-damaged property, as they will often seek out easier nests to excavate. Once located, carpenter ants are dealt with much like traditional ants: with bait traps or sprays that take poison back to the colony.

Insect Damage and Homeowners’ Insurance

Damage caused to your home by insects is usually not covered under homeowners insurance. Homeowners’ insurance coverage usually is governed by two major factors: was the incident sudden and accidental? Damages that occur from gradual growing problems that are preventable through home maintenance (mildew, wood rot, and rust for non-insect examples) are not covered. If you want to learn more about your options (including an insurance bond with a local exterminator company), contact the TJ Woods Insurance Agency.