The study of subterranean termites is a must for one to truly identify and recognize signs of termite infestation properly. The subterranean termite is a social insect, living underground in colonies and traveling into buildings for food. Consequently, there are a few clear signs of termite infestation for which one should look.
Perhaps the first and more noticeable sign of the presence of termites in your home is mud tunnels coming up the side of your foundation. Subterranean termites live in the ground in moist conditions. They will build mud tunnels from the ground up the side of the foundation and connect them with the wooden structure of the building. This tunnel protects the workers from the environment, keeps them from drying out, and provides an avenue to travel into the house. These tunnels can easily be broke open to determine if it is still actively used. In addition to these working tunnels or tubes, one may also see exploratory tubes and drop tubes. The exploratory tubes arise from the soil but do not reach the actual wooden structure. These may be found in crawl spaces under buildings. The drop tubes can be seen extending from the wooden structure downward toward the soil. Any of these types of tubes indicates there is or has been a presence of termites in the building.
It should also be noted that, while active mud tunnels are clear signs of infestation, the absence of such doesn’t mean there is no infestation. There are other ways subterranean termites can access the house without the mud tunnels. They can reach wooden sills through cracks in the foundation or from porches and decks. It is also possible that the mud tubes or tunnels may be under the building out of sight.
Another sign of termites has to do with the appearance of swarmers. Anytime one finds termites swarmers inside, you can be assured that there is an infestation of termites somewhere in the home. Finding shed wings is an indication that termites are present and have entered their next phase of development. To find swarmers on the outside is not proof of an infestation in the home but certainly warrants a more thorough inspection as a termite colony is undoubtedly nearby.
Termite swarmers are often confused with winged carpenter ants. Click here to learn the difference.
Subterranean termites will build tunnels and galleries inside the wooden structure of your home. They will excavate the wood to the extent that only a thin outer shell is left intact. At this point, the wood will have a soft, hollow sound when tapped on. The remaining outer shell will often break through, exposing a mixture of feces, saliva, and soil. This unquestionably is not only a sign of termites but shows the presence of a heavy infestation.
Raised or buckling paint and tiny holes on the wood each indicate a presence of termites. Pushing on the wood with a screwdriver or knife will easily break through the thin outer shell. You will then be able to see tunnels through the wood. The weakening of the wood will allow you to see what appears to be crushed or damaged wood at any load-bearing location. These are indicators of a heavy infestation that has more than likely been taking place for years.
What To Do If You Suspect You Have A Termite Problem
Identifying termites in the home does not necessarily mean you have a crisis or a badly damaged home. The structural damage from termites takes place slowly. However, quickly recognizing the infestation of termites will drastically reduce the amount of damage. All property owners should make regular inspections, looking for telltale signs of termites to prevent damage to the home. Key areas to inspect should be any wood construction in basements and crawl spaces, all sills and floor joists, basement window frames, and wood under porches. Pay attention to any area where concrete slabs, steps, or porches connect to the wooden components of the building.