Termite Detection & Signs
Detecting Termite Damage in Your Home
Termite treatment and repairs for damage cost billions of dollars in the U.S. every year, by some estimates, more than $5 billion. Despite the fact that termite colonies can grow quite large, it can be difficult for homeowners to detect termite infestations without professional help.
Subterranean termite colonies may nest close to your home or as far away as 18 inches below your home's foundation, while drywood termite colonies can thrive undetected inside your home's walls. Qualified termite experts are trained to identify signs of a termite infestation and provide treatment to control these pests.
How to Detect Termites
Homeowners should partner with their termite specialist to regularly monitor for termite activity and use control methods, when necessary. Regular termite inspections are crucial for your specialist to detect termite warning signs and apply treatment, if needed.
Pile of dead termites on a kitchen floor.
Termite experts understand the biology and behavior of each termite species, and know where termites are likely to nest and feed in and around your home. Qualified specialists also understand the latest termite control methods and have access to inspection and treatment equipment that can help protect your home.
During an inspection, your termite professional will review common termite entry points and look for signs of an infestation. After your inspection, you should receive a report highlighting what activity was found (if any) and recommendations to prevent termite infestations. Implementing the right prevention program on the front-end can save you time and money versus dealing with an infestation and termite damage after the colony has grown.
Many termite experts also are knowledgeable about home construction and can provide suggestions for how you can help reduce conditions that allow termites to thrive. Two key home maintenance issues you can focus on include reducing excess moisture that can build up around your home (e.g. near the foundation, A/C units, etc.) and reducing wood-to-ground contact (e.g. mulch too close to the home, debris in crawl spaces).
Signs of Termites
Termite inspectors will look for warning signs of termites, including mud tubes, termite droppings, exit or kick out holes, bubbling or peeling paint, and wood damage. A pest control expert also can distinguish between swarming termites and flying ants, and accurately identify damage from termites versus other wood-destroying insects.
Drywood Termite Symptoms
Due to the nature of drywood termites and since they live in the wood that they infest, they can go undetected. The prefer woods like furniture. Holes in the wood wood and ridged droppings are the two most common signs.
Identifying Termites in Your House
If you see signs of a possible termite infestation in your home, contact an expert who can correctly identify the insect and recommend appropriate control measures. A termite inspector also will inspect potential entry points.
Infrared Detection of Termites
New devices using infrared technology can now detect termites found in walls. This works particulary well for drywood termites. This imaging can help find the source of an infesation and allow localized treatment.
Signs of Airborne Termite Infestation
Most termite species swarm, or send out winged termites to start new nests elsewhere. It is common to see termites swarm in spring for the most common species of termites, but other species will swarm in summer and into the fall.
Signs of Termite Infestation
A trained professional termite inspector can conduct a visual inspection of your house to determine if there are signs of infestation or damage by termites. They can check for subterranean termites, drywood termites, dampwood termites and associated damage.
Termite Detection Stakes
Termite detection stakes, or termite monitors, are cellulose based sticks placed in stations around a foundation to determine if subterranean termites pose a threat to a structure. Monitoring stakes have no control agent.
Termite Droppings (Frass)
Drywood termites live inside wood and they do not have to go to the soil for moisture. In fact, they have minimal need for excess water. They do create small hard droppings that are ridged and the color of the wood on which they fed.
The most damaging termites, subterranean termites, swarm to send out reproductives to start new colonies. This is when most people see termites in their homes. They also find wings from these termites or mud shelter tubes as evidence.
Termite Exit Holes
The purpose of termite colonies is to preserve and continue the species. Drywood termites live in the wood and create exit holes where winged reproductives can emerge. After the swarmers are gone, these holes are sealed.
Termite tracks are usually the hollowed out galleries where the termite has consumed sapwood and left the heartwood in the case of subterranean termites. Drywood termites can leave "tracks" of fecal pellets and they eat across the grain of wood.