Property damage is a significant issue that goes hand-in-hand with pest control problems. Many Boston and Metrowest homeowners are shocked to see just how much havoc one raccoon or a single termite colony can wreak in a short period of time. They’re also surprised to learn that damage from insects and nuisance animals is, in fact, a typical problem in these parts.
Keep an eye out for signs of these 6 pests around your Massachusetts home so that you can bring in a pest control expert and avoid property damage.
The most common type of termites in Massachusetts are subterranean. Subterranean termites threaten homes when they start tunneling from the soil into a home’s frame or foundation in search of food. If left untreated, a termite problem can result in significant structural damage.
Signs of a Termite Infestation
- Mud tubes. These are tiny, narrow tunnels that termites make out of chewed up wood, dirt, and saliva. Termites travel through these tubes between their underground colony and their above-ground food sources.
- Flying termites (swarmers). They will look similar to large ants with wings.
- Discarded wings left behind by swarmers
- Wood that sounds hollow or that snaps or splinters under light pressure
- Bubbling paint on the walls. This occurs because termites release moisture as they consume wood.
2. Carpenter Ants
Unlike termites, carpenter ants do not consume wood. Instead they create cavities (or galleries) in wood (and other materials) to build a nest. Wheras termites consume wood to obtain cellulose, carpenter ants excavate it to build their nests. Typically, carpenter ants will target softwood or wood that’s wet or rotting because it’s easier for them to bore into. However, once the ants start there, they can move on to a home’s support beams.
Signs of a Carpenter Ant Infestation
- Piles of wood shavings that the ants have discarded under window sills, door jambs, and baseboards
- Large, dark ants. Carpenter ants are significantly larger than ordinary black ants and can be black, brown, red, or red and black.
- Swarmers (winged ants) flying around your home’s crevices
- Discarded wings left behind by swarmers
Squirrels are a type of rodent, which means that their incisors never stop growing. Consequently, squirrels chew incessantly to keep their teeth filed down. This can become a major problem if a squirrel begins chewing on parts of your home, especially the roof, insulation, and electrical system.
Squirrels also invade homes while searching for shelter. They’ll widen existing gaps around a home’s roof, chimney, soffits, and eaves and squeeze inside. Once in an attic, it’s fairly common for squirrels to rip up any exposed insulation to build a nest.
Signs of a Squirrel Infestation
- Scurrying or scampering sounds in your ceiling
- Signs of scratching or chewing in your attic or crawl space
- Torn up insulation
- Damaged air vents
- Damage around your home’s roofline or damaged shingles
- Dismantled birdfeeders
Raccoons may look cute, but they can introduce a host of problems to your home if they decide to invade your attic or crawl space. They can dig up your garden and tear up your walls, insulation, and electrical system. What’s more, if they designate a place on your property or inside your attic as their own personal raccoon latrine, you could be exposed to a parasite called Baylisascaris procyonis, a roundworm that can be harmful to human beings.
Signs of a Raccoon Infestation
- Toppled trash cans or trash strewn across your property
- Shuffling sounds or growling, squealing, chittering, snorting, or snarling on your roof, patio, or porch at night
- Piles of raccoon feces (raccoon latrines)
- Tracks around your yard
- Scratch marks on tree trunks, fences, and on your porch
- Uprooted plants and half-eaten vegetables
- Fish missing from your pond
- Destroyed birdfeeders
Skunks are infamous for their foul odor, but they can cause a surprising amount of damage around your yard as well. Skunks are burrowing animals by nature, so they often try to dig tunnels and burrows underneath decks, sheds, crawl spaces, and even concrete foundations. As they dig, they can damage wood, plumbing pipes, and electrical cables in the process. These creatures can also wreak havoc on your garden as they dig through your lawn and flower beds searching for grubs to eat.
Signs of a Skunk Infestation
- 3- to 4-inch cone-shaped holes in your lawn or garden beds
- Skunk tracks around your home
- Faint skunk odor
- Overturned trash cans
- Signs of digging around your home’s deck, porch, or foundation
6. Mice and Rats
Having a mouse or rat infestation is a double-whammy: these rodents not only chew non-stop, but they also have destructive nest-making behaviors. If your home has an exterior gap as large as a nickel, a mouse can squeeze inside. Mice and rats will tear apart furniture, fabric, paper, and insulation to build nests.
Additionally, to keep their ever-growing incisors filed down, they will chew on just about anything hard, including drywall, plastic, and sheet metal!
Signs of a Mouse or Rat Infestation
- Scampering sounds in your walls, ceiling, or cupboards
- A stale, ammonia-like smell coming from your air vents
- Oval-shaped droppings. When compared to grains of rice, mice droppings will be slightly smaller, while rats’ will be slightly larger.
- Torn insulation, furniture, fabric, and papers