Every year termites do an estimated $5 billion worth of property damage in the U.S. alone. With the average cost to individual homeowners affected by termites hovering around $3000, it’s no wonder that people have anxiety about potential termite problems. The longer that termites are allowed to remain in your home, the more costly it is going to be to repair it. Early intervention is critical in keeping the costs down. A yearly home termite inspection by a professional is a great idea, but proactive homeowners can also learn to identify and watch for signs of termites. Let’s take a look at five of the most common signs of a termite infestation.
1. Swarming Termites
Since termites typically live underground or in hard to access spaces, it is not often that you actually see them. Once or twice a year, however, termite reproductives (called alates) will swarm in search of a mate and a new place to start a colony. This swarming typically occurs during the spring and is most common after rain. These reproductive termites have wings, but they are poor flyers, mostly drifting with the wind. If you see swarming termites near your home, chances are good that their colony is close by. When the termites land, they will intentionally discard their wings because they won’t need them any more. These piles of discarded wings can be seen on window ledges, by doors, and around other entry points to your home. Piles of termite wings signal trouble and should alert homeowners to possible termite problems.
2. Wood Damage
Termites chew through wood in search of cellulose which provides their main nutrients. When they eat the wood, they leave long grooves or maze-like patterns behind. Over time, these grooves left by termites can weaken the structural integrity of the wood and cause damage to walls, floors, ceilings, etc. Although it is hard to see the below-the-surface damage, outward signs of wood damage could include sagging floors, hollow sounding wood, squeaky or buckling floorboards, and cracks in walls and ceilings.
3. Mud Tubes
Subterranean termites travel from their home in the ground to their food source via tunnels called mud tubes. These tubes are made from a combination of wood, dirt, and saliva. Mud tubes are important because termites require very specific temperature and humidity levels to survive. By creating mud tubes, they can control these factors easily and move about while staying out of sight of predators. Mud tubes are about the size of a pencil and can often be seen where your home meets the ground. The presence of mud tubes is a sure sign that your home has seen termite activity.
4. Discolored or Damp Spots on Walls
Because termites require a certain level of humidity, areas where termites are present often have a higher moisture level that the termites control using their “mud” as an insulator. This can lead to damp spots on walls or discolored peeling paint that looks like it has suffered water damage. This excess moisture can also cause swelling in wood, making windows and doors tight-fitting and difficult to open.
5. Piles of Termite Droppings
Termite excrement, known as frass, looks like small pellets. Since the space in their tunnels is limited, some species of termites (drywood especially), will create holes where they will push the frass out. If there are enough termites, these piles of frass will start to build up. Frass color varies by species, but is often light to dark brown or black and each dropping is six-sided. To the untrained eye, it may resemble sawdust. If you start seeing frass around window sills, baseboards, or wooden porches, call a professional right away to perform a termite inspection.
Midwest Pest Control offers termite monitoring and treatment programs. Instead of finding out that you have termites after they have already damaged your property, let our trained technicians inspect your home on a regular basis to identify any signs of termites and ensure that things are taken care of before they get out of hand. To learn more about our termite services and our special termite monitoring program known as Pest Plus, contact us today. We are your Tulsa termite control experts.