Types of Termites in Iowa


If you’re trying to learn more about termites in Iowa, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll show you the termite threat level in Iowa, the types of termites in Iowa, and resources for Iowans dealing with termites.

Interestingly, in 1923, Burlington, Iowa, was the first US city to implement termite prevention into its building code (Faith Oi).

If you’re interested in a specific aspect of Iowa’s termites, check the table of contents and skip ahead to a relevant section. If you can’t find what you need, send me a message or a comment. I do my best to respond to everyone.

Types of Termites In Iowa

In this section, I’ll discuss the types of termites present in Iowa and how much of a threat these different species pose to Iowans.

Are there termites in Iowa?

Yes, termites are active in Iowa. They’re found in Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Iowa City, Waterloo, Des Moines, and in rural areas of Iowa. According to ISU’s extension, termites are more common in Southern Iowa but found across the state.

What types of termites live in Iowa?

Subterranean termites are prevalent in Iowa. Iowa mostly has Eastern subterranean termites and some dark southeastern subterranean termites.

Drywood termites aren’t native to Iowa, so you generally don’t need to worry about them.

But drywood termites can be transported into Iowan homes via secondhand furniture, so inspect any older furniture you buy for termites.

Iowa Drywood Termites

As mentioned above, drywood termites aren’t native to Iowa, but they are found in Iowa on rare occasions.

On the rare occasions that drywood termites are found in Iowa, it’s usually from folks buying used furniture from a place where drywood termites are common, like the Southwest United States.

You can learn more about inspecting used furniture for termites here, but basically, you can check for termites in used furniture by tapping it in different places (also known as a termite tap test).

When you tap it, termite-infested wood will sound quite different than solid wood furniture.

Also, look for any frass (droppings) piles laying around the furniture (though if you buy second-hand furniture from a store, you might not see these).

They look a bit like sawdust, but more of a pellet shape. You can learn how to identify termite frass here.

If you find termites in furniture that you don’t want to throw out, contact a pest control professional in Iowa to discuss your options.

Sometimes you can conduct a spot treatment (for localized infestations); other times you’ll need broad treatment.

If you accidentally brought drywood termites into your home and they were able to establish their colony in your home, you might have to search more for an Iowan pest control company that has experience fumigating for drywood termites since drywood termites are so rare in Iowa.

Iowa subterranean termites

The most common underground termites found in Iowa are Eastern subterranean termites. Below is a video of some eastern subterranean termites eating an old fence in Des Moines, Iowa.

Video showing eastern subterranean worker termites eating a fence in Des Moines, Iowa. The termite pro explains why you should avoid wood-to-ground contact to prevent termite infestations.

You can see in the video that Eastern subterranean termites (Reticulitermes flavipes) in Iowa (and other places) often appear white, which is why people sometimes think they’re white ants.

There are also some dark Southeastern subterranean termites (Reticulitermes virginicus) in Iowa. As their name suggests, these tend to be darker in color (brownish, reddish, or blackish).

Are there any invasive termite species in Iowa?

Formosan termites are the primary invasive termites in the United States and so far, thankfully, they’ve not made their way into Iowa. Formosan termites seem to prefer the warmers climates of the Southern US states.

What do termites in Iowa look like?

Subterranean termites (common in Iowa) are sometimes confused for ‘white ants‘. They’re about the same size and similarly shaped. They can also be darker brown, reddish, or black, often dependent on what they eat. The below video shows some worker termites in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Video showing some white worker termites on a log in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Signs of Termites in Iowa

There are several signs of termites in Iowa that any homeowner can learn to identify. Since Iowa mainly has subterranean termites, the primary evidence of termite activity in Iowa you should look for is:

  1. Termite mud tubes (aka termite shelter tubes
  2. Damaged drywall paper
  3. Swarmers or discarded termite wings (swarmer are reproductively mature, flying termites. They look quite a bit like flying ants)
  4. Damage behind bubbled and peeling paint
Iowan pest control professional (Robert of Pro-Staff Termite & Pest Control of Iowa) shows a very long exploratory termite shelter tube. These termites ate the paper backing from sheetrock.

Iowa’s termite threat level, termite season, and treatment considerations

In this section, I’ll cover how commonly termites are found in Iowa, the seasons where termites are more active in Iowa, and different termite treatment options in Iowa.

Are termites common in Iowa?

Termite activity is more common in the Southern half of Iowa than in the Northern half of Iowa, but they have been found in nearly every county (94 of 99 Iowan counties have reported termite activity). The USDA considers the southern two-thirds of Iowa to have moderate to heavy risk termite risk, while the northern third of Iowa to have slight to moderate termite risk.

Map of Iowa showing the probability of termite in different regions of Iowa
USDA map of termite risk in Iowa. You can see the top third of Iowa has a lower termite risk than the bottom two-thirds of Iowa.

Do I need termite protection in Iowa?

There is some termite risk no matter where you live in Iowa (94 of 99 Iowan counties have reported termite activity), so all Iowans should follow basic termite prevention strategies. If you live in the southern two-thirds of Iowa, you should have termite protection, since the risk of termites there is significant.

If you live in the Northern third of Iowa, you might not need termite protection since the termite risk is slight to moderate there, but you’d be gambling on your home by foregoing protection. It’s wise to at least get an annual termite inspection.

map of relative probability of termite infestations in the United States (from U.S. Department of Agriculture)
In this USDA map of termite risk in the US, you can see that all of Iowa has some risk of subterranean termites. Most of Iowa has a moderate to heavy threat level but parts of Northern Iowa have a slight to moderate termite threat level.

When is termite season in Iowa?

Subterranean termites (the most common type in Iowa) aren’t very active during Iowa’s cold winters. Thankfully, this slows the damage that Iowa’s subterranean termites cause (compared to states without cold winters). But, even though they slow down in cold weather, termites eat wood all year, meaning they don’t have a season.

When do termites swarm in Iowa?

In all states, termites often swarm after rainfall on warm days. In Iowa, this means termites often warm in Spring or early Summer. Termites sometimes swarm in heated buildings during the winter too.

Eastern subterranean termites normally swarm in Iowa between March and May in the daytime.

Dark southeastern subterranean termites often swarm in Iowa between March and June during the day.

How often should you treat termites in Iowa?

Subterranean termite treatment generally lasts reliably for around five years. Termites can occasionally, however, find a way through a termiticide trench barrier, so it is good to get an annual termite inspection to monitor for potential termite activity.

Do I need a termite bond if I live in Iowa?

You don’t necessarily need a termite bond if you live in Iowa but you may want one, particularly if you live in the southern two-thirds of Iowa which has a moderate to heavy risk of termite activity.

Termite bonds act as insurance against termite damage in Iowa. Termite bonds typically require an initial termite treatment and inspection to ensure your property is termite-free and a subsequent annual fee, inspection, and follow-on termite treatments as necessary. You can learn more details about termite bonds and coverage warranties here.

Do most homes in Iowa have termites?

It is not likely that most homes in Iowa have termites but most homes in Iowa are at significant enough risk for subterranean termites that they should implement termite protection. It’s best to discuss how to do this with a pest control professional.

How much do termite inspections in Iowa cost?

You can expect to pay around $100 to $150 for a termite pre-home sale termite inspection in Iowa.

If you found what you think are termites or suspected signs of termites around your home and do not need an official termite inspection report (for a real estate sale), termite control experts in Iowa will often conduct these for free.

They’ll then likely recommend termite treatment options and give you a price quote.

Resources for dealing with Iowa Termites

Next, I’m sharing some additional resources that Iowans dealing with termites can consult for more details about termite control in Iowa.

I share some Iowan University extensions (great resources for all sorts of Iowa pest control issues), some legal considerations for Iowa termites, and how to research and get in touch with companies licensed in Iowa for termite control.

Iowan university extensions

Iowa Termite Websites

  • insectsofiowa.org has some useful photos for identifying termites in Iowa and other Iowan bugs.

Iowa Termite Law

If you need legal advice about termite issues in Iowa, consult a lawyer. (I’m not a legal expert).

The primary legal document (pages 1-2) I found that addresses Iowa termite legal requirements, states that commercial, noncommercial, and public pesticide applicators must take separate certification tests for different pest categories, termites being one of such stand-alone categories.

The same document also states that people in Iowa that conduct wood-destroying insect inspection reports for real estate transactions and refinancing are required to be licensed in Iowa for termite control (category 7b).

Iowa Termite Inspection Requirements (Wood Destroying Insect Inspection Report (NPMA-33)

Iowa uses the National Pest Management Association’s Form 33. This was updated in 2019, so check the copyright date on your form to ensure it states 2019. Beyond ensuring the correct date, you can expect the following in the corresponding sections:

  1. Section 1: General info, inspection findings, and pest control company
  2. Section 2: Inspection findings, any visual evidence of wood-destroying organisms observed
    1. Live insects
    2. Dead insects
    3. Insect parts
    4. Frass (insect droppings. Termite frass looks a little like sawdust. Learn more about it here).
    5. Shelter tubes (You can learn more about termite mud tubes here.)
    6. Exit holes (aka, frass holes, kick-out holes, pinholes.)
    7. Staining (termite mud tubes that are knocked down or fall down normally leave a stain)
    8. UPDATE: Section 2 no longer included “Evidence of previous treatment” because it was deemed too difficult to definitively determine.
Video explaining recent (2019) changes to the NPMA-33 Form (Iowa’s Wood Destroying Insect Inspection Report)

Is a termite inspection report required in Iowa?

A wood-destroying insect inspection (which includes termites) is required in Iowa for real estate transactions, including property sales and refinancing. According to Iowa law, these types of inspections must be conducted by an inspector with a valid Iowa commercial pesticide applicator license with a certification in termite control.

How long is termite inspection good for in Iowa?

Generally, it’s recommended to get an annual termite inspection. But if you find any evidence of termites around your home or property, you should request a termite inspection to have a termite professional check for infestations.

Iowa termite companies

Here is a list of some termite companies in Iowa. I recommend reading their reviews on the web and asking family, friends, and acquaintances to get an idea of their customer satisfaction.

  • Action Pest Control (Hiawatha, Iowa)
  • American Pest Control (Mason City, Iowa)
  • Arrow Pest Control (Newton, Iowa)
  • ASAP Pest Control (Audubon, Iowa)Terminix
  • Budget Pest Control (Dubuque, Iowa)
  • Critter Control
  • Family Pest Control (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)
  • Local Pest Control (Davenport, Iowa)
  • Midwest Pest Control (Peosta, Iowa)
  • Orkin
  • Pest Control Solutions (Essex, Iowa)
  • Preferred Pest Control (Urbandale, Iowa)
  • Presto-X
  • Priemere Pest Management (Eldridge, Iowa)
  • Superior Pest Control (Clive, Iowa)
  • TruGreen
  • TruTech Wildlife Service

Additionally, ask around family, friends, and acquaintances for recommendations. It’s likely you know someone who has had termite treatment in Iowa.

If you can’t find anyone, however, who has hired an Iowan termite control company (maybe you just moved to Iowa), then try searching on Facebook.

Many folks voice their complaints or praise about termite companies there, giving you an idea about the quality of their termite service.

One more thing to keep in mind.

Many people have written to me and claimed they’ve received more personable, cheaper, and more effective termite treatment from smaller, family-owned pest control businesses than they did from the larger, national franchises.

So, make sure you consider the Ma and Pa termite companies in Iowa!

Don’t be off-put if they offer you a significantly lower price than a national termite franchise.

A lower price doesn’t always mean lower service quality when it comes to termite control.

Iowa Pest Control License

Before you commit to a termite control company, check to make sure they’re licensed in Iowa.

You can look that up with the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship here by following these steps:

  1. Click the green ‘Applicator/Certification’ button on the left
  2. Write ‘termite’ in the company name (Note: not all termite companies have ‘termite’ in their name, but this is a good way to help you filter through the many licensed companies in Iowa. If you are looking up whether a specific company is licensed for termite control in Iowa, type the company name in this section.
  3. In the ‘License Type’ box, select ‘Commercial Applicator/Non-Aerial’. (Aerial applicators treat crops with pesticides and herbicides)
  4. In the ‘State’ box, select ‘IA – Iowa’
  5. Optional: In the ‘County’ box, you can select a county in Iowa. I didn’t do that here, but generally picking a pest control company closer to you (in other words, the same county in Iowa) should be cheaper because companies will charge you extra if they have to travel a significant distance.

Once you’ve filled everything out, it should look like the screenshot below. Then just hit the blue ‘Search’ button and scroll down to see the results.

How to lookup liscences termite control professionals in Iowa
Screenshot of how to find pest control professionals licensed in Iowa

The results show companies licensed in Iowa for termite control. They’ll look like the screenshot below:

Example of some liscenced termite professionals in Iowa
Screenshot showing some termite control experts who are licensed in Iowa

If you use a termite control professional who is not licensed in Iowa, and their termite treatment is subpar, you’ll likely have fewer legal options of recourse (though you may have some, since they were performing unlicensed termite treatment).

Get Several Quotes from Termite control professionals in Iowa

If you’d like quotes from several different Iowan termite professionals, you can call around to different termite companies around where you live.

Or you can fill out this form and several professional termite companies will give you free, no-obligation price quotes.

However you go about it, I recommend always getting at least three inspections and written quotes from pest control companies in Iowa, so you can compare them and make sure you’re getting a good deal.

Getting at least three inspections also gives you consensus. It’s a bit like getting a second or third opinion from doctors before committing to surgery.

And keep in mind that the company that offers you the cheapest termite treatment isn’t necessarily the best (they may have terrible customer service) or the worst (they may be offering you a great deal because they have lower operating costs).

So, make sure to ask around for recommendations before you decide on which termite company in Iowa to use.

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