Termites cause an estimated 5 billion dollars worth of damage annually to homes and buildings in the U.S. What’s worse is that termite damage isn’t covered by most homeowner insurance policies. If you don’t pay attention to signs you have termites, you could end up spending thousands of dollars in repairs.
Termites can hurt buildings of any kind, and damage your structural supports, window and door frames, insulation, and more. The good news is that by spotting signs you have termites early on you can keep the damage to a minimum.
How do you spot signs you have termites? Read on to learn the 7 signs you have termites and how you can get rid of them.
What are Termites Exactly?
Termites are pale, soft-bodied insects that are usually about one-quarter of an inch or less in length. They’re known for the ability to cause damage by chewing through wood, flooring, and wallpaper undetected.
There are two types of termites: drywood and subterranean.
Drywood termites are active above ground and live within the wood they infest. They do not need soil contact since the wood they eat provides the moisture they need to survive.
Here are some key traits of drywood termites:
- They have protruding mouth pincers
- They usually eat across and along the grain of the wood
- They construct their feeding galleries and often consume all the wood in a piece of lumber right up to the wood’s surface
- They make small holes in the wood to push feces and debris out of their nest
Drywood termites usually do damage to the following areas:
- Roof sheathing
Subterranean termites, unlike dry wood termites, need to be close to the soil to survive. They live in underground colonies or in wet areas. They’re also the most destructive kind of termites.
Subterranean termites live in underground colonies or in wet areas aboveground. Subterranean termites need moisture, so they build mud tubes as they travel to protect themselves from dehydration.
If you don’t pay attention to the signs of termites, subterranean termites can destroy:
- The foundation of your home
- Support beams
- Plastic pipes
Fact: Subterranean termites are responsible for 95% of all termite damage in the United States.
7 Signs You Have Termites
1. There Are Sounds Coming from Your Walls
If you hear clicking sounds coming from your walls, there’s a chance you may have termites. Soldier termites will bang their heads against wood or shake to signal danger to other termites when their colony is disturbed.
Termites are also noisy eaters. If you put your close to any area you think may be infested, you may be able to hear them eating through your wood.
2. You’ve Spotted Flying Insects in Your House
One of the first signs of a termite infestation is flying termites, also known as swarmers. These tricky bugs are the ones who have left their nest to find mates so that they can build another nest within your home.
Another thing is that flying termites tend to shed their wings after they’ve found their mates. So if you see tiny wings scattered around your home, it’s possible they belong to termites that have already begun to build another nest.
3. You’ve Seen an Increase in “Ants” in Your House
Often times, people will confuse termites with ants because they’re similar in shape, size, and behavior. This is bad because termites will do much worse damage than ants.
Here are the key differences between ants and termites:
- Termites are usually a white/creamy color and can look pretty clear or translucent
- Termites have straight antennae while ants have angled antennae
- Termites have a bigger waste section than an ant
- Both flying ants and termites have two sets of wings, but the wings of termites are even sized
By remembering the key differences between these two insects, you can better spot the signs you have termites.
4. The Wood in Your House Sounds More Hollow Than Normal
Termites, especially drywood termites, consume wood from the inside out. This results in just a thin veneer of wood or just the paint. If you knock or tap on an area that has termite damage, it’ll sound hollow or papery.
This is because most of the timber on the inside has been eaten away.
5. It’s Hard to Close Doors and Open Windows in Your House
Often times, it can be hard to close doors and open windows because of damp or hot weather which causes them to become stiff or warp. But this issue could also be one of the signs you have termites.
When termites eat and tunnel through wood they produce moisture. This moisture causes the wood within doors and window frames to warp, which makes it difficult to shut or open them.
6. You Have Tunnels in the Wood of Your Home
You may never notice termite burrows or galleries unless you actively look for them. If you want to know if you have termites, break a piece of broken wood in your house. If that wood has been infested by termites you will clearly see tunnels created by the termites.
You can easily do this by using a screwdriver to pop off a wood plank and then inspecting the wood.
If you want to know if the damage has been done by drywood or subterranean termites, check for mud or dirt. If there’s mud, that means you have an infestation of subterranean termites. If there’s no dirt or mud, that means you most likely have a drywood termite infestation.
7. You’ve Started to Find Termite Droppings in Your Home
One of the biggest signs you have termites is the presence of frass, which is the fecal matter they push out of their burrows when tunneling and eating. By looking at the amount of frass present, you can better determine the size of the infestation and where the termites are located.
Drywood termites push their frass out to keep their nests nice and clean. This causes small black marks and a dark substance to appear around the area they are infesting.
Termite frass is super fine and can look like sawdust. Make sure you don’t confuse the two though or else you might miss the signs you have termites.
What to Do About a Termite Infestation
In some cases, you may not notice the signs you have termites until the damage has been done. Termites can be hard to get rid of, and they don’t rest often, so you have to act quickly to save your home from complete destruction. Below are some tips for getting rid of termites.
Set Up Termite Bait and Monitoring Stations
With this method, devices are placed underground to attract termites and lure them out. Once termites get close, a chemical treatment will eliminate the nest. This method is most effective when used against subterranean termites.
Fumigate Your Home With Chemicals
Fumigation is the most effective way to kill termites at any lifecycle stage. This process involves many safety precautions including covering your home in a fumigation tent. An expert will then use chemicals that will seep into the wood and eliminate the termite nest.
If you live in North Carolina, Lake Norman Pest Control Davidson NC can provide you with the necessary fumigation assistance.
Follow Up With Spot Treatments to Make Sure The Termites are Gone
Spot treatments are recommended after termite bait and monitoring stations and fumigation have occurred. With this method, highly trained specialists inspect your home to make sure the whole infestation has been removed.
They may also continue chemical treatments and use tools to cut into the wood and eliminate the infestation.
If You Want to Get Rid of the Termites on Your Own
In general, we recommend you seek expert help with eliminating your termite infestation. This is because if you do it incorrectly you could only spread the infestation, which will cost you more in the end. But here are some tips for taking care of it on your own:
Purchase Over the Counter Treatments
Many pharmacies and drug stores sell chemicals that will help eliminate termites. But these chemicals are very strong and can be dangerous to children, pets, and plants, so be careful.
Set Up Cardboard Traps
Stack wet, flat cardboard pieces near where you think the termites are to lure them out of hiding. By doing this, you can lure out hundreds of termites, and confirm that you, in fact, have termites. Or you can take the cardboard with the termites on it and burn it.
Final Thoughts on Signs of Termites
The key to dealing with termites is noticing the signs of termites early on and taking care of them before they can fully invest. Termite damage can cost you thousands of dollars, so it’s important to act fast.
Have you ever dealt with a termite infestation? What did you do about it? Let us know in the comments!