Termites are tiny insects that can cause extensive damage to a structure and cause a great deal of stress when they have found a home in your home. It can take up to five years before the damage of termites is seen by a homeowner. There are some signs that can be noticed, if a person knows what they are looking for, and treatment to rid a home of these pests can begin. However, in most cases if signs of termites are seen, there will most likely already be damage.
The most noticeable sign that termites are affecting the home is seeing the actual insects. They can burrow into mulch and around bedding in landscapes. They will be evident in lumber, logs or any other decomposing wood that is near the house. If there are signs of the actual termites it is a good indication that a thorough inspection is required.
Mud Tube Tunnels
Termites require moisture and use mud, soil, saliva, feces, and cellulose from chewed wood to build their nests and collect condensation. They also use the same elements to create brown mud tube tunnels to protect themselves from predators, keep moist and to allow them to get from one place to another that they cannot burrow into easily. These pencil-sized tubes can be seen on outer walls of a structure and inside crawl spaces. They are one of the most tell-tale signs that a home is infested with termites. If the tube is broken open and they are dry and crumbly, this is an old mud tunnel and the termites have moved somewhere else. If they are active they will be harder to break open and once they are there will be live termites moving inside, indicating a swarm has infested the home.
2. Insect Droppings
When a homeowner suspects they have termites, the first plan of attack is to explore all around the structure, taking care to look around the foundation and under the house in any crawl spaces. Look closely around windows and any place where concrete meets wood. Inspect stairs that lead to porches and around and below exterior doors. Termite droppings could be present and indicate they are burrowing into the structure. Their fecal matter is granular and can be white or black, if found this could be a clue that they are living inside the walls of a home.
3. Insect Swarms
Termites swarm, usually in the spring as they are looking to mate and rebuild a new colony. They come out of their nest and are heavily concentrated as they mate. Some will die and others will return to the ground afterward to rebuild a new colony. If seeing large swarms of flying insects around the house, this would be a good time to inspect the area for damage. Swarming means they are present and have made a nest near the home.
4. Insect Wings
Termites lose their wings after they mate and if there has been a swarm there will be tiny wings as well as insect bodies gathered on the ground. They can be found around windows and on the sashes. If they have gotten inside the house during a swarm they will die within hours, they are drawn to light and will try to exit through windows. Termites leave many clues behind, if they are noticed, so inspecting closely can show a person they are living inside or in a nest near the structure.
5. Rotting Wood
Termites love rotting wood, so any wood that has been exposed to moisture should be checked for signs of termites. Siding like stucco or brick that comes in contact with the moist, damp ground could attract termites. Also, any wood near the house, stacks of logs for firewood or lumber that is lying around could attract the insects and begin their feeding frenzy.
If you suspect that there are termites destroying your home, the best precaution is to do a thorough inspection and look for signs of them infesting the home. Prevent any moisture in attics and basements to help keep them out and check the structure periodically to keep a handle on the situation. Every home is at risk of termites, being vigilant will protect your home and your wallet.