3 Signs of Termite Infestation

The subterranean termite, the most common species in the United States, live in a nest or colony below the ground. The colony is constantly expanding and could eventually be as large as 2,000,000 termites. Generally, termites will enter a home at the base, near the foundation or crawl space. Since the subterranean termite doesn’t roam in the open and only travels through tunnels, they can be hard to detect until the damage is extreme. If you’re concerned about termite infestation keep an eye out for these 3 signs:

1. Termite Swarms

Once a termite colony matures (3-5 years), it will start to produce winged adults, who start forming swarms. Seeing a termite swarm is often the first sign of infestation. Swarming can occur indoors or outdoors, but usually it only indicates a home infestation if you notice them swarming in or adjacent to your home. If you notice swarms farther away from your home, such as around tree stumps or wood piles, your home probably isn’t invaded. Swarms typically stay right beside the infested structure and are attracted to light, so they will often be near windowsills or vents. If you don’t see a termite but instead notice discarded wings around the around one of the areas mentioned above, that could also be a sign that a swarm has occurred and your home might have an infestation problem.

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2. Mud Tubes

Another sign of potential termite infestation is if you notice mud tubes inside your home. Termites use mud tubes, built from materials like soil and wood particles, to move around since they do not roam in the open. Mud tubes are brown in color and are about the diameter of a pencil. The tubes can be found in a variety of areas but usually connect from the ground to some sort of wood. The tubes are noticeable when they’re on a light colored surface, such as concrete but they are often hidden in cracks or behind walls.

If an inspection reveals any tubes away from the base of the home, such as the second floor, it could be a sign that you have an above ground infestation. If so, that means the termites have moved away from the ground soil and have established nests within the home itself. This situation normally occurs when there is some sort of leak or moisture problem in the structure of the home. The additional moisture makes it possible for the termites to live away from the soil.

Once a tube is discovered, you will want to verify that termites are active in the tube. It could be an old, abandoned tube, that crumbles easily. If so, the termites may have simply moved on to a new area. Keep in mind, that doesn't mean the termites are gone from your house, as they often repair old tubes.

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3. Wood Damage

Wood damage is the most common sign of termite damage . Since termites don’t move around in the open, they either use mud tubes, or bore tunnels in wood to travel from place to place. The issue is that wood damage may be difficult to spot since termites only eat the interior spring wood, not the exterior wood. It might be impossible to see any wood damage until it starts to completely deteriorate. The best way to detect if the wood is deteriorated is tapping the wood with a handle of a screwdriver every couple of inches. If the wood has been infested, the structure will be compromised and the wood will sound hollow. It may even collapse if the damage is severe.

While wood damage is what is most commonly associated with termites, they will actually eat anything containing cellulose. This includes items such as cardboard boxes, sheet rock covering, insulation, and any sort of paper products.

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If you notice any of these signs, it is time to call a pest control company. While there are products that homeowners can buy to use themselves, it is typically best to call an expert. A termite infestation is not something you want to waste time trying to fix yourself. A pest control company will have the knowledge and experience to take care of the job effectively and efficiently. If you do not currently have any signs of termites, it is still a good idea to be proactive. You could consider doing regular inspections yourself, or better yet, have an annual inspection done by a pest control company. In addition, you will want to ensure that you maintain the moisture and humidity levels within your home to guard against any above ground infestations. This is where a crawl space dehumidifier, such as a WatchDog can come in handy so you can automatically maintain the moisture levels in your home.

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Miller, Dini M. "Signs of Subterranean Termite Infestation." Virginia Cooperative Extension (2010): 444-501. Web. 13 July 2016. Potter, Mike. "Termite Control: Answers for Homeowners." Entomology at the University of Kentucky. University of Kentucky, Mar. 2004. Web. 14 July 2016. Waldvogel, Michael. "Termite Control - ENT/rsc-20." Termite Control - ENT/rsc-20. NC State University Department of Entomology, Mar. 2007. Web. 14 July 2016.