Can termites get from a shed over to my house?

Here's a question e-mailed in by a reader:

"We are buying a new house, and found out at the last minute that there are termites in a shed in the yard about 25 feet from the house. My question is will they migrate over to the main house? Will they decrease the value of the home?"

Yes, if you have termites in a shed near your house (or really in any part of the neighborhood - it doesn't have to be on your property), you are at risk of getting termites in your main house as well.

Termites spread mainly by "swarming," which is where a bunch of winged termites designed to reproduce will fly in a large group to look for a new home.
 

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 Depending on the species, they can go pretty far, up to 2,000 feet from where they started out. Your house, since it is only 25 feet away, is likely to get hit by a swarm at some point, and if they can find a way in they will start a new colony there. They swarm in the spring and the summer, which is when your home will be most at risk.

Additionally, you are also at risk because the termites could well tunnel over to your house from the shed and decide it's a source of food. 25 feet is not that far, and subterranean termites will dig outward from their main colony in search of food. In addition, unlike ants and other hives, termites often have multiple queens capable of laying eggs. Those might get into your house as well, expanding the colony over there.

If you let termites infest your home, it will decrease the value. Right now it sounds like there's no damage, because they aren't actually in it. You should be able to get the shed treated in more than enough time to avoid losing value to the home, because it often takes years of infestation before any real damage is done to the wood.

If you have a question about termites you want answered, submit it here.

Sources and Useful Links:

http://www.lsuagcenter.com/en/environment/insects/Termites/formosan_termites/Formosan+Termites+Swarming+Dont+Help+Them+Spread.htm

http://www.abcpest.com/austin/pest/library.shtml

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