How long do you think termites have inhabited our earth? The answer: 130 million years along with cockroaches and mantids. Scientists even found a 100 million year old termite encased in amber.
It seems like scientists could have figures out how to eradicate them from the earth in 130 million years. Yet, here they are. Still swarming, forming colonies, and causing termite damage to our homes and buildings.
They cost us money, time, and even properties. Why are they here?
They do serve an important purpose in recycling wood. That’s great Nature Boy.
If you do not, in fact, live in the middle of the woods and enjoy watching nature move through the lifecycle, the thought of termites probably elicits a negative response.
Let’s look at ways to determine if termites have decided to reside in you home.
How Can You Tell If You Have Termite Damage?
Termites, small, pale insects about the size of long grain rice, live in colonies. Some have wings and others do not. They eat wood and, when left unchecked, can destroy all wooden structures in a building.
In the process of eating wood, they create tunnels and caves. These tunnels can weaken the wood even before exterior signs appear.
If they conduct their dirty work inside of the wood, how can I know if I have a termite problem? Look for the following 7 signs.
Colonies produce winged male and female termites. At times, they will swarm around windows, door frames, and light fixtures. Swarms often do not occur until the infestation is extremely bad.
There are also times during the year when termites swarm in neighborhoods. If you look outside, you can see huge swarms near streetlamps. During these times, keep outdoor lights turned off so they are not drawn to your house.
2. Fecal Material
Termites leave small piles of fecal pellets. This usually looks like sawdust. You may find, what looks like sawdust, on window ledges. If you have no reason for sawdust to be in that location, this may indicate termites.
3. Piles of Wings
The termite’s life cycle begins with a mating flight. Swarming, winged males and females leave their home colonies and procreate. Once the fertilization stage ends, the winged termites shed their wings.
These termites then gain royal status as the king or queen of their newly formed colony.
4. Holes in Wood
Tiny holes found in wood serves as a tell-tale sign of termite infestation.
A termite’s diet is comprised mainly of cellulose. Cellulose, an organic fiber, makes up wood and other plants such as grass. The cellulose provides essential nutrients to termites.
Termites’ mouths contain special parts that allow them to chew wood and other cellulose materials. They also maintain bacteria, protozoans, and other bacteria-like organisms called Achaea. These microorganisms help the termites break down cellulose into digestible components.
5. “Blisters” on Wood Surfaces
When termites tunnel in the wood, it may create “blisters” on the wood surface. Blisters or bubbles often occur in homes with painted sheetrock walls. The termites eat until they get to the paint and then stop. The paint then bubbles or flakes.
When the paint flakes off, look and see if the sheetrock behind the paint is missing. If so, this provides a definite sign that termites are feeding on the sheetrock.
Another cause of bubbling paint can be water or moisture damage. In either case, this requires further investigation and treatment before the problem gets worse.
6. Mud Tubes
If you find caked mud running up the foundation or your home or on inside walls, you may have termites. This vein-like pattern on the foundation or walls has no other natural reason to occur.
Subterranean termites create these tunnels to guard against the drying effects of the air. They travel through these tubes to get food.
Most termites in the United States do not form nests inside a home. They use these tunnels to travel between your home and their nest.
7. Damaged Wood or Sheetrock
Termites may feed on all types of wood. They do prefer moist, rotting wood or sheetrock which is softer. They will also often attack baseboards in homes.
If you see an area that you believe is just wood rot, look closely for tiny tunnels or honeycomb patterns. These are characteristic for termite activity.
How to Decrease Your Chance of Termite Infestation
It may seem impossible to fight off termites. They’ve been around for 130 million years. Yet, there are several steps you can take to decrease your risk for termite infestation.
- Avoid storing wood, especially wet or rotting wood, near your house
- Keep bushes and shrubs away from your house and foundation
- Repair leaky hoses so that you don’t create a moist environment at your foundation
- Repair landscaping that causes pooling of water near the foundation
- Repair gutters and drains to prevent collection of moisture at the foundation
- Seal all small cracks and crevices in the outside walls of your house with silicone caulk
- Surround your house with 18 inches of stone, gravel, or concrete
- Place fireplace wood on racks away from your house or other buildings
It is important to remember that termites must travel from the ground directly to the wood. They can’t cross concrete, stone, or climb up steel structures. You can fight back.
Have your house inspected every one to two years for termites. Find out if other houses in your neighborhood have problems with termites.
Do You Need a Team to Conquer Your Termite Problem?
If you have found signs of termites, it is important to act immediately. The longer you wait, the more damage they inflict.
Explore our site further to learn about how we treat termite damage. You can schedule an appointment to have your house inspected for other problems including dry rot. We also install and repair siding, awnings and more.
Contact us today and get started on your home repairs and improvements.