Signs of Termites
Summary: People are naturally scared of the unknown. What could be more terrifying than termites lurking unseen and unheard within the walls of your own home. The signs of termites usually include massive swarms of flying termites, mud tunnels or damaged wood.
If your house has become infested with termites you might not know it. You need to know how to look for signs of termites before it is too late. You need to know what termite damage and other termite evidence looks like.
Subterranean termites live underground and search randomly for food sources by building hundreds of tunnels leading away from their nest. Eventually, they find a good food source and lead other termites to it.
Subterranean termites will stay underground until it is time for them to
reproduce. Then specific types of termites known as alates, or reproductives, will burst from the soil in a swarming mass. The flying insects swarm above ground for a short time, try to find a mate, and then die or return underground to start a new colony. This normally happens in the spring, but can also occur a second time in the fall.
If they happen to swarm out of their tunnels and find themselves inside your house they will probably fly towards windows because they are attracted to light and want to be outside. Luckily, they will die within a few hours indoors and are not dangerous. However, the swarm is Mother Nature's way of saying, “Call an exterminator, dear!” or buy some Termidor to do a termite treatment.
Subterranean termites need moisture to survive, so they build mud tubes to travel across surfaces that they cannot burrow through. These tubes are brown, about the diameter of a pencil, and can be found on exterior walls, support beams or in crawl spaces. If you find tubes like this it is sure evidence you have a termite problem and a termite treatment is required.
Termites usually have one king and a queen that lays the eggs. Worker termites gather food, which is cellulose material like decaying wood or paper, and bring it back to the other termites in the colony. They use the tubes to protect themselves from predators and to keep them moisturized.
Termites usually stay below the surface of wood, so they can be very difficult to find, even for an expert. Darkened or blistering wood is another indication of an infestation. If wood is very thin and can be easily poked through or it seems hollow if you tap on it, it may have been damaged by termites. Sometimes ripples or indentations can be seen in the wood. Look for fecal
pellets which are small and granular, usually white or black, or any small holes in wooden walls, baseboards or beams. These small holes might have a little sawdust around them where particles of wood have been pushed through.
Rotting wood is attractive to termites, so any wood that has been exposed to moisture should be checked first. Any siding like stucco, wood or even brick veneer coming in contact with the ground may promote termite activity. Termites can attack the siding materials without building exposed mud tubes and would not be detected with a visual inspection.
Keep attics and foundation areas dry by having good ventilation systems in place and seal any cracks in the foundation. Check utility and service boxes for mud tubes. Remove untreated fence posts, tree stumps and any other scrap wood from around your property. Any adjoining structures like sheds or garages should also be inspected to identify an insect infestation.
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