Every homeowner’s worst nightmare is coming home one evening to find evidence of a swarm of termites living in the walls, floorboards, or furniture. They leave behind piles of wings, dust, and severe structural damage to the house. Unfortunately, many homeowners miss early warning signs of termites. Once they finally figure out the termites have found a home on their property, it may be too late to salvage the wood structures in which they have nested. You have to get comprehensive termite control before they start swarming.
It’s essential to be vigilant and know what the signs of termites are. There three main types of termites: drywood, dampwood, and subterranean. Drywood termites are found in warm, southern climates and live within the wood structures they consume. We do not see drywood termites in our area, so we don’t need to worry about drywood termite signs. Dampwood termites are found in subtropical climates like Florida and Hawaii.
Subterranean termites can be found throughout the continental United States and build their colonies in the soil underground, but travel underground or above ground to find wood to consume. Both cause damage to wood and leave their own telltales signs of infestation. Find out if you live in an area prone to one or both types of termites, and watch out for signs of termites accordingly.
If you are concerned your home may have termites, call TermiGuard today for a free consultation. Our team of qualified experts will help you determine whether your property has an infestation. If so, we will walk you through our 4 step process to get rid of the termites and keep your property safe from any future infestations.
Early Signs of Termites: Tiny White Insects that Resemble Ants
The most reliable sign of termites is, of course, seeing a termite. Termites are small, highly social insects. They live in colonies divided between “worker” and “soldier” termites. Worker termites build colonies and feed on wood, soil, and animal waste, while soldier termites defend the colonies. All colonies have fertile “kings” and “queens” that reproduce and allow termites colonies to grow larger and spawn new colonies. Termite colonies tend to live close to their food sources: your home and property.
Though termites resemble ants in appearance, size, and the way they structure their colonies, they are more closely related to cockroaches than ants. Upon sight, however, termites and ants are easy to confuse. The best way to tell an ant from a termite is by color: termites are white or cream-colored while ants are black. There are no white ants, so if you see a white insect that looks like an ant, it’s probably a termite.
More Evidence of Termites: Sounds Coming from the Walls
Even if you can’t see the termites, you may be able to hear them. If the termites are tunneling near the surface of the wood, you may hear a rustling, papery sound as they eat and move. Termites are sensitive to vibrations in the wood. If disturbed, soldier ants in the colony will bang their heads against the wall of the tunnel or shake their bodies, creating a dry rattling sound.
You may also be able to tell if you have termites by knocking on the wood. To be thorough, use a screwdriver handle and tap every few inches along exposed wood surfaces. If your knock sounds hollow, this may mean termites have tunneled through the inside of the wood, creating empty space. Subterranean termites eat away at wood from the inside out. You may not notice visible damage for several months, but eventually, the termites will likely eat their way to the paint, leaving chunks of wood, floorboards, or wooden furniture gone. Like other wood-eating pests like carpenter ants, termites are voracious.
Many homeowners find out they have termites on their property when they notice damage to their wood. There are several different telltale signs of termite damage. Wood may appear to be crumbling or withering away. You may notice maze-like patterns within furniture, floorboards, or walls, which indicates the termites are burrowing just below the surface of the wood. This is most common for drywood termites, who not only eat the wood but build colonies within it.
The structural damage caused by the termites may cause sagging floors, walls, and ceilings and may leave behind areas that appear to have water damage. Discolored or drooping drywall is another sign, as is excessively squeaky or buckling floorboards. Tile floors may have loosening tiles caused by the added moisture termites produce.
If your home has any of these signs of structural damage with no clear cause, you may have a termite colony on your property. Call TermiGuard for a free consultation so you can prevent any further damage and minimize the cost of extermination and repairs. The longer you leave termites unchecked, the more damage they will cause, the larger the colony will become, and the higher the likelihood a new colony will form on your property becomes.
Hard-to-open Doors and Windows
If you ever have trouble opening a door or a window in your home, it could be because of a termite infestation. One of the ways termites damage wood is by producing moisture as they dig tunnels. This moisture can create visible water damage by causing the wood to warp. On a wall or floorboard, this warping may not be very noticeable. In a door or window frame, however, this warped wood may make the door or window stiff and difficult to open.
Swarms and Piles of Wings or Pellets
Most signs of termites are fairly subtle and easy to miss. A swarm of termites in your home, however, is the most obvious sign of termites. Once a year, either during the fall of the spring, male and female swarmers leave the nest for a few hours to find a mate and start a new colony. If you see or find evidence of a swarm, it’s important to act quickly, before the swarmers who find a mate might try to start a new colony on your property.
The time of year and time of day swarms form varies based on the species of termite and local weather conditions. Many species swarm during the morning or afternoon. Other termite species swarm in the evening or at night. During the night, termites are attracted to light and often gather near windows, doors, and light fixtures. If you are not home during a swarm, or the swarm occurs outside your house, you may not know it happened. But swarmers leave their mark by shedding their wings after they find a mate, leaving a pile of tiny wings resembling fish scales.
You may also see piles that look like dust but are actually fecal pellets. These could show up near walls or near infested furniture.
Subterranean termites have a different telltale sign of an infestation. They build mud tunnels on the ground as bridges between their colony and the wood they consume. The termites use mud and their feces (also known as termite frass) and saliva to build these long, cylindrical tubes, which are about the width of a drinking straw. The tunnels protect the colony from predators and conserve moisture.
Look for the mud tubes beneath floorboards, along cracks, on pipes and other plumbing, and even up chimneys. They may also extend over exposed surfaces such as patios and tile flooring. If you find one in or around your home, do not attempt to destroy the tube yourself because this may cause the termites to scatter and create a larger infestation. Instead, immediately call a professional to inspect the property and get rid of the termite colony.
Now that you know what the signs of termites are, you will be able to take steps to minimize damage. At the first sign of termites on your property, you should call a qualified pest extermination professional. But even after the colony is exterminated, you may be left with structural damage and the possibility of a recurring termite problem.
If you choose TermiGuard, our team will not only efficiently and thoroughly exterminate the termites; we will also create a personalized plan to assess and repair any damaged wood structures on your property and monitor it for future infestations. It’s truly a one-stop solution to getting rid of the termites, fixing the damage they caused, and preventing future infestations.
Even if your home has not yet fallen victim to a termite infestation, it might be smart to take some preventative measures to keep your home safe. Termites cause an estimated $5 billion in damages and repair cost each year. That’s more than fire, floods, or tornadoes. If you live in an area prone to termite infestations, consider calling TermiGuard to learn how to protect your home from future damage.