By the time many homeowners discover termites on their property, they’ve probably been there for a while. The sooner you can spot a termite issue, the better chance you have of avoiding expensive structural damage and repairs. It’s estimated that Americans spend nearly five billion dollars on termite damages each year.
Termites are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on wood. The two main types of termites include:
- Subterranean Termites: Generally found underground and can be difficult to discover until significant damage has been done.
- Drywood Termites: Typically burrow deep into wooden structures.
Termites live in groups or colonies. As the baby termites grow, they form a swarm and increase the colony size. Winged termites are reproductive termites that fly in search of potential mates.
If signs of termites aren’t noticed early enough, damage can escalate and lead to increased structural damage. Property owners need to be aware of the dangers of termites and their signs to avoid an infestation. Preventive measures and pest control can make sure termites don’t become an issue in your home or commercial building.
Common Signs of a Termite Infestation
Subterranean Termite Tunnels
Subterranean termites build their colonies and tunnels underground but travel above ground to find food. They can enter homes through cracks in the foundation and mud tunnels created from their feces, saliva, and mud. Subterranean tunnels are dry, brown, and cylinder-shaped and found near the foundation of homes.
Shelter tubes provide termites shelter from predators and allow them to transport food above ground. Tubes are typically large enough to contain workers foraging for food. Others may be slightly larger to allow for room to transport food. This is the most destructive stage for your property.
While it’s difficult to see a termite infestation, you may be surprised to learn you can hear them. In places heavily infested by termites, you may hear audible tapping noises. This sound is made by soldier termites tapping their mandibles and heads on the wood to signal the rest of the colony. The continual transfer of the signal to the colony increases the sound and your ability to be alerted to an infestation.
Hollow Wood & Sagging Floors
When termites burrow into trees or wood, they create a honeycomb pattern inside before you see small holes on the outside. That’s why it’s extremely difficult to spot termites early. As they burrow into and devour the wood, the structure becomes weaker and may cause a hollow sound or sagging floors. Tap your walls and floors to listen for a hollow sound which tells you termites are present.
Tiny termite droppings or pellets are often found near a termite colony entry point. If you find a pile of termite droppings outside your home, it’s clear you have a termite issue.
Reproductive Termite Wings
When reproductive termites fly to find their mates, they drop their wings and make themselves at home to grow their family. If you see swarms of insects or discarded termite wings, alert your local termite experts to check for termite colonies. Subterranean termites often swarm in the spring while drywood termites may swarm and mate throughout the year.
Do you suspect termites in your home? Call the experts at Inman-Murphy Termite & Pest Control for a complete assessment.