Worried About Termites? How to Detect an Infestation

Written by Chem-Wise on . Posted in Blog

Termites do incredible damage to homes, but many homeowners don’t know they’re there until it’s too late. If you can catch termites right when they move in, you can get rid of them before they damage your home’s structure and cost you thousands of dollars in repairs.

Learn the signs of termite infestation so you can nip the problem in the bud. Remember, if you aren’t sure if you have termites, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Call a professional pest control company immediately to perform an inspection.

1. Mud Tubes

While they scurry to and from their work chewing away at your wood, termites like to stay sheltered. That way, their environment stays humid, dark, and protected from others’ eyes.

Normally, termites stay hidden by staying inside the wood they harvest. However, sometimes they need to cross metal or stone surfaces in their search for more wooden items to eat. Termites solve this problem by building mud tubes, also called shelter tubes.

Termites construct these tubes by combining soil and wood cellulose with their saliva, and they look like dried-up dirt. Look around your house for tubes about the size of a pencil—termites often build them in attics, crawlspaces, around the foundations of homes, or by pipes.

If you’re not sure what you’re seeing is a mud tube, try taking out a small piece of it. Come back again in a few days to check—if the hole has been repaired, termites definitely use that tube.

2. Swarms and Wings

When a termite colony has grown too big for the available space, part of it will split off in search of a new home. This group is called a swarm and consists only of mature termites with wings, and they usually form in the spring. Most people think the termites in the swarm look like flying ants, though you can tell the difference by looking at their waists: ants have slim, indented waists, while termites’ waists are wide.

If you see swarms of termites around your home, this means that the original colony may not be far away—it may even be hiding inside your house and you haven’t come across it yet. Alternatively, even if the colony isn’t there, the swarm may take up residence in your home if they can find a way in. Be extra vigilant for other signs of termite activity.

After the swarm has settled on a new home, they shed their wings. If the group has taken up residence in your home, you may see piles of wings around the house. Call a pest control company if you see either swarms of termites around your home or discarded wings.

3. Damaged Wood

Most of the time, termites hide their activity by only burrowing into one side of the wood. This means that if the colony is consuming your walls from the inside, you may not know because the exterior side facing you looks the same as ever.

However, if you suspect your home may have termites, you can sometimes find tell-tale signs. First, tap on your walls and floors. If one section sounds suspiciously hollow, or if one of your floorboards is suddenly creakier, you should investigate further. The wood behind that spot may have been consumed. If you can, find a way to take apart your wall or floor to look, but otherwise call a pest control professional for advice.

Sometimes, you may be able to see the damage if the termites haven’t kept their activity totally hidden. If your wooden furniture, floors, or walls have maze-like patterns on them, it could be from termites. Additionally, if you have crumbling wood or peeling paint and can’t think of a clear cause, termites are a plausible explanation.

4. Visible Termites

Termites usually stay out of sight. However, once in a while a homeowner may actually see one. Usually, the mature reproductive termites, such as the ones that fly during a swarm, are about half an inch long and are either black or brown. However, most termites in a colony are workers, which never have wings or reproduce. These termites are about a quarter of an inch in length and are white.

Even if you never see a termite, you may find their droppings, also called frass. These tiny particles may look like a pile of salt or pepper. If you see them inside or close by your home, termites may be in the area.

If you worry that you may have termites, call Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management. We’ll provide a thorough inspection to find any problem areas, and if termites are in your home, we’ll put together a comprehensive treatment plan.

The good news is that termite damage is usually slowly built up and, when caught early, isn’t an immediate threat. Call us today so you can avoid expensive, lasting damage—we’re ready to help.