There are over 2,000 species of termites around the globe, with about 40 of those occupying different regions of the United States. While there are numerous species, they do often look similar and have the same goal—to eat dead wood. This is excellent in wooded areas as termites help to perpetuate the cycle of life, assisting in the breaking down of dead or downed trees. However, this is less great when termites view your home as a source of food.
Signs your home is infested with termites are often seen through the life cycles of termites. In order to understand the indicators of termite presence, you have to understand termites themselves.
Termites, similar to ants, have a structured society with a “king” and “queen” who are the founders of a colony and breed two categories of new termites: reproductive and soldiers (and some species of termites have a third, worker class). The reproductive are a class of termites that have wings. When they come to maturity, they fly off in a swarm to locate and start their own colony as “king” or “queen”. If you see a swarm of flying inspects (that are about a half to an inch long, light brownish in color, and an oblong body) then you may have termites.
The remaining class, the soldiers (and sometimes the worker class) bore into the dead wood to forage for food. This class feeds themselves and the king and queen of their colony. Their food source is simple sugars, which are gained through the digestion of the cellulose found in wood (and any wood products). Termite excrement is small and pellet like and often found outside of the wood they are consuming. If you see this, you probably have termites.
Aside from food, termites also require water like any other creature. However, they don’t require massive amounts—damp wood can suffice. While minimal water source is needed, without it, termites will dry out and die. Be mindful of damp firewood left too close to your home or damp, rotting wood from a fallen tree at the edge of your property—these attract termites who may decide to make their way into your home.
To help maintain their levels of moisture in their damp wooden homes, termites seal up holes and gaps that could allow in air to dry it out. Mud tubes are little hollow pathways that help seal a termite home from dryness and heat and allow ease of navigation around the colony. They may also form a bridge from one wood source to another that is segregated by non-wooden material (like concrete or rebar) so that the colony can expand.
Call In An (Unbiased) Expert To Confirm Suspicions.
Sometimes, there may be signs of termites long after the area has been treated. This can be worrisome for some homeowners and/or potential buyers of a property—they can’t tell if it is left over from an infestation or signs of a new one. By electing a termite inspection, you can have a professional provide an unbiased review of the home and property. Termite inspections provide homeowners or home buyers with a confirmation of termite presence (or lack thereof) and a recommended course of action. Since termite inspectors do not exterminate, merely evaluate, they are not inclined to find a termite issue where there may not actually be one.