Termite damage to your home can be a costly—not to mention stressful—problem to resolve. That’s why preventing termite infestation before it begins is the best way to avoid the extensive damage that can be caused by these invasive pests.
Early Signs of Termites
Fortunately, there are many ways to spot early signs of termites, so you can treat the problem before it spreads. Read on to learn more about warning signs that might indicate termites are nearby, and what to do if you suspect there is termite activity in or around your home.
Types of Termites
North America is home to two main varieties of termites: subterranean and drywood.
Subterranean termites need plenty of moisture to survive, so they make their nests in soil. Their nests are connected to food sources such as fence posts, trees or houses, by way of mud tubes. Subterranean termites eat along the grain of soft wood. The distinctive honeycomb pattern that results is one way to detect the presence of this type of termite in your home.
Typically, the more destructive of the two main types of termites, subterranean termites, live in colonies that may number in the millions and can cause considerable damage to houses, garages, fences and other structures. It has been estimated that Americans spend $1 billion a year on repairs and control measures associated with subterranean termite damage!
Drywood termites need very little moisture to survive, so they don’t need to live in or near soil. Thus, they can often be found in attics, hardwood floors, dead trees or other areas that are away from the ground. These termites eat both along and against the grain of the wood they consume. Their colonies generally number only in the thousands, not the millions, so even at full capacity, a drywood colony is less likely to cause major damage to a home or other structure than a subterranean colony.
Warning Signs that Termites Are Nearby
If you see any of the following in or around your home, there’s a good chance you have a termite infestation on your hands:
- Swarms of flying termites—If you see what looks like large flying ants in or around your home, there’s a good chance these are actually subterranean termites. Of course, actual flying ants do exist, and while they may be unwanted in your home, they typically don’t cause damage. If you are unsure which type of insect you are seeing, a pest control professional is your best bet for inspection and proper diagnosis.
- Discarded wings—Drywood termites can lose their wings after the fertilization phase of their life cycle when they are ready to form a new colony. If you see evidence of discarded wings around your home, either in piles or even just a few wings here and there, there’s a chance you have an active colony nearby.
- Termite frass—Also called termite pellets or fecal pellets, frass is the fecal matter of a drywood termite. If you find a pile of these tiny, brown, hexagonal pellets on your floor or windowsill, it’s a telltale sign that you have a drywood termite infestation. Don’t vacuum up the pile, though! A thorough termite inspection by a pest professional can confirm that what you’ve found is indeed frass, indicating an active swarm.
- Termite mud tubes—Subterranean termites create small tunnels made of mud from their homes in the soil to their preferred food source. These tunnels can be difficult to spot with an untrained eye, but if you see lines of mud in or around your home—often on the foundation, the porch or a tree trunk or at the base of stairs—it’s a likely sign of termites.
- Small holes in wood—Multiple small holes in anything wooden around your home, such as windowsills, hardwood floors, furniture legs or piles of firewood, are an indication of termite activity.
If you spot any of these signs, contact a trusted pest professional for a thorough inspection of your living space. The sooner a potential problem is identified and addressed, the less likely it is that your home will incur major damage.
How to Make Your Home Less Attractive to Termites
What can homeowners do to prevent their homes from becoming termite food? Fortunately, there are several preventive measures you can take:
- Schedule regular termite inspections—Schedule an annual inspection of your home, trees and yard. A well-trained pest inspector can spot any signs of termite activity and treat the problem before it spreads.
- Treat infested areas promptly—A trained termite control specialist can use treatments specifically designed for killing and repelling termites to treat damaged wood as well as the soil around your home.
- Install pre-construction termite control shields—Best installed when constructing a new home, garage or other structure, these metal shields go along the foundation, preventing termites from accessing any wood that lies beyond.
- Keep outdoor wooden structures away from your home—Any place where there is contact between wood and soil, such as an outdoor wood pile, a decaying tree stump, the bottom of a fence or the legs of wooden lawn furniture, is prone to termite infestation. Wood mulch can also attract termites. Keep anything made of wood that makes direct contact with the ground as far away from your home as possible.
- Use treated wood for building pergolas, decks and other outdoor structures—Termites tend to avoid the chemicals in treated wood and are less likely to turn to treated-wood structures for food.
Trust ABC to Protect Your Biggest Investment
If you suspect that termites might have invaded your home, your best bet is to schedule an inspection by an experienced termite professional. Since subterranean termites are by far the most destructive type of termite, ABC only treats for this variety, but our trained specialists can determine which, if any, type of termite is present in your home and help you determine the best steps for resolving the problem.