Termites are widely considered one of the most destructive pests in the world. In the US alone, termites negatively impact up to 600,000 homes and account for around 5 billion dollars of property damage. Let this sink in for a moment.
What’s even worse is that most home insurance does not cover any damage from a termite attack. This means that if you get a termite infestation, you must catch it early and employ effective termite control measures.
If you don’t, you will have to pay for all the damage from your pocket – and that can be a hefty amount. Having said that, it is not really an easy task because termites are not easy to spot. They are small and usually nest in humid corners and crevices. They don’t emerge until it is too late. The likelihood of you catching the pest early on is not high. If you know the right signs to look for, you can catch the pests and take control of the situation.
Here are the five most important signs that indicate you have a termite infestation:
One of the very first signs of a future termite infestation are tiny, winged pests called termite swarmers. Swarmers look like flying ants and are approximately half an inch long, pale-colored, have large wings and are attracted to light.
Their main job is not to eat away at your furniture but to lay eggs for termites that will. They will usually settle around humid crevices and corners, where they mate and lay their eggs. Once they find a mate, swarmers will shed their wings.
So, even if you don’t see the insects themselves, you should keep an eye out for the wings that they will shed on the windowsill or door openings. The wings are usually around a quarter of an inch long and pale-colored, so it’s not as easy to spot them.
If you want to save your furniture (and your money), you have to spot swarmers before they lead to termites. The only way you can spot the wings is if you do the dusting around your house. If somebody does it for you, be sure to ask them of any signs of wings shed away in any corners. As soon as such a sign appears, don’t delay it and be sure to schedule an inspection.
What starts with wing shedding on the windowsill usually progresses to droppings around the infested site. Termite droppings are called frass and are a definite sighting on the infestation site. Since termites themselves are very small, it takes a very careful eye to notice the droppings. In fact, some species may use the droppings to build their tunnels inside the infestation site, so you won’t even find them on the infestation site.
Frass may take different forms depending on the species. In some cases, it might be distinctly recognizable. Such as for drywood termites, the droppings may look like small pellets and may range from a dark olive to light brown color. Don’t worry about having to recognize the actual droppings. In most cases, frass will take the form of a dark-powdery substance that looks like wood shavings.
When you see termite droppings but not actual termites, or signs of damage, that is a sign of termites and they are probably close by eating away at your furniture. Termite droppings themselves are not hazardous to your health or carry any communicable disease. Termites themselves do not bite or sting humans either. So, you’re in the clear there, but if you’re not sure about what you see (when you do see frass), it is always better to err on the side of caution and call in an inspection and get started with the treatment immediately.
It is easy to miss out on termite swarmers and droppings. You can definitely not miss out on the condition of fixtures and fittings.
Before you see actual hollowing and blistering, you will notice that your windows and doors get stuck too often. They will not move as freely. This largely happens because when the termites eat the furniture from the inside, it begins to fall in on itself. When that happens, the borders may protrude and get stuck against each other.
You may take it as a sign of rusting hinges, but it’s important to recognize what the problem really is. Even more so, you might begin to notice tiny holes in the wood. Also, keep an eye out for damage to the surface paint of the furniture. In isolation, none of these may be too alarming but if you begin to notice these signs together, you can be sure you have a termite infestation.
Some other signs to look for may be:
- Paint bubbles.
- Uneven surface of furniture and fittings.
- Bitten away and discolored wallpaper.
- Cracks in furniture and fittings.
Finding any of these signs requires that you check in on your furniture every now and then. Yes, that sounds like a lot of work, but it will also save you a lot of money in the long run. An easy way is to just dust around the house at regular intervals. If you notice any signs that were not present during the last cleaning, you know what the problem could be.
Mud tubes are small veins that will run from the infestation sites. These mud tubes offer shelter and protection to the pests while also enabling them to travel freely. They are made from termite droppings and soil and will flow from the food source (infestation site) to the soil.
This nature of mud tubes explains why it is important to keep your furniture away from moisture. At the same time, try to store dry wood away from your house to keep the infestations away.
Since soil is usually the nest, it is also a good idea to keep all your wood furniture as far away from the soil as possible. This also means that you need to keep an eye out on your flooring for any leaks that the termites might use as a route to the soil underneath. Most importantly, the foundations of your house are the closest to soil, and therefore, you must keep a regular check to ensure there is no termite infestation as that can be extremely dangerous.
Mud tubes are one of the most noticeable effects of a termite infestation. You could even try to break a small piece out of the mud tube to observe live termites. Once broken, the mud tube will be fixed in a few days if it is actually being used by the termites. Even if you don’t see any live termites or the mud tubes being fixed, there’s still enough to worry about. Therefore, a mud tube is a sure-shot sign that you should embrace professional pest control services.
Holes and Damage
One of the final signs that you should look for is actual open damage to your furniture. This is especially alarming because termites usually eat wood from the inside out.
Only once they’ve completely eaten your furniture from the inside will they emerge to the surface. Now that you see them there means that they’ve completely hollowed out your precious furniture.
However, this still does not mean that it is too late! Even if the termites are emerging, they’ve only covered a small area in your home. The damage is localized for the time being. If you let this go on, termites can spread to more areas and perhaps even to the foundation of your house. You definitely do not want that to happen, do you? So, make it a point to schedule a termite inspection at the first sign of furniture damage.
There’s no doubt that it’s difficult to figure out whether or not you have a termite infestation before some property damage has already been done. If you know the key signs you need to look out for, you’ll be able to catch these destructive pests in their tracks and take necessary action.
A special piece of advice is to never fall for those quick hacks to keep termites away because there really aren’t any real hacks. Just take the right precautions (like keeping all wood away from humidity), and hope there are no termites. But do not rely entirely on the idea that you won’t get termites at all because of some simple hacks.
Want to defend your home against termites? Call Flex Pest Control right away!