Early Warning Signs of Termites
Termites are generally considered to be silent destroyers, causing an estimated $5 billion dollars of damage in the US each year. While many homeowners are caught unaware by termites, it is possible for you to detect infestations before extensive damage has occurred. Knowing what the early warning signs of a termite infestation are will help you protect your home against these dangerous insects.
How Do You Know If You Have Termites?
What are you looking for when trying to determine if you have a termite problem? Signs of a termite infestation include:
Stuck Windows or Doors
As the termites infest and feed on the wooden frames, they can cause the windows and door frames to warp, making it hard to open and close properly. The insects can also cause problems by creating mud tubes that prevent the window or door from closing properly.
Damage Under Paint of Wallpaper
Termite infestations may cause damage under paint or wallpaper, leaving behind sawdust on the floor, sagging walls, and bubbling paint. If you notice any of these signs inside your home, it is possible that the source is an infestation.
Another common sign of an infestation is swarms. These are clouds of flying insects that are often mistaken for flying ants or wasps. If you see this, there is a chance the swarm was triggered by termite activity nearby.
Before swarming, termites shed their wings in large numbers. This occurs when they are preparing to reproduce, so it is a sign of multiple colonies nearby. These wings are easy to spot and are commonly said to resemble fish scales.
Mud Tubes and Tunnels
Termites work together to create an extensive network of tunnels within structures. They have fragile bodies and rely on the walls of their tunnel system to shield them from predators. For this reason, they often use mud or soil as a binding agent to keep the walls of their tunnels intact. If you see tubes along your floorboards, there is very likely termite activity present.
Termite droppings are called frass, and they appear in piles or trails. Depending on what type of wood the insects are eating, the color of the frass can vary, but generally, it looks like grains of salt and pepper and can commonly be found along window sills, window frames, floors, and other areas near your home's exterior walls.
Early warning signs of termites include hollow sounds in wooden structures such as walls and floors. The insects create tunnels in structures, leaving air pockets behind. If you tap the wall and hear a hollow sound, it may be caused by termite problems. Sometimes these sounds are accompanied by flaky bits of wood poking out from the surface.
Squeaky or Buckling Floorboard
Termites eat on a very regimented schedule, and the only time they stop eating is when it's time to reproduce. If you suspect that there might be termite activity on your property, go around at night with a flashlight and listen for any buckling or squeaking floorboards. Listen especially in potential nesting areas like closets because this is where the activity will be most pronounced.
Small Holes in the Walls
Termites are equipped with powerful jaws that allow them to chew through almost any material. Once they have created a hole in the wall, they will start tunneling their way through the structure. These tunnels often appear as tiny pinholes. This can be difficult to identify because it is possible for these holes to form over time due to insect damage.
If you see lots of small holes in the walls, it might be a good idea to call for inspections. While the presence of these holes does not automatically indicate termite activity, it can mean that a colony is present or has been recently active.
A Musty Odor Coming from the Walls
If you notice a musky, sweet odor coming from the walls of your home, it may be an indication that termite activity is present. This happens when they eat through sheetrock to access other areas of the home, so pay close attention if you smell something odd in this area.
What To Do If You Notice Signs of a Termite Infestation
If you notice any of the signs listed above, it's time to get your home inspected by a professional termite inspector. They are trained to look for these warning signs and will be able to spot if the pests are present, how severe an infestation is, and what treatment plan is best for your particular situation.