Termite infestations can cause billions of dollars in property damages to homes each year. The problem is termites aren't always easy to see since they can be inside your home's walls. However, there are telltale signs you can look for that signal the need to call in a termite control professional to do an inspection and take the steps necessary to rid you of the pests.
Swarms of Winged Termites
Winged termites look a lot like flying ants. But like other flying insects, swarming termites are attracted to light. You may notice them near light fixtures or on screens and windows. You also may see them swarming near the base of foundation walls or porches, especially where there is wood.
If you have termites, you may see them flying around in the early spring, usually during the time from March until May -- the months when winged termites are most active. Winged termites flying around outside usually are a sign that non-winged termites are present in your home.
Termites come out when the ground thaws, entering your home through cracks in the foundation. Termites live in colonies, and spring is the time of year when they are in their reproductive stage. Finding wings that the insects have shed on windowsills or in your basement often means that termites have taken up residence in your home.
Another sign that termites are present are mud tubes about the width of a pencil that you find along the sides of your home's foundation walls. The tunnels, which are mostly dried mud and termite droppings, are a direct path from the termites' nest to their food source. Their presence normally indicates that your home is infested with an active colony of termites feeding on wood somewhere inside.
Empty tubes don't necessarily mean that the termites are gone. They simply may have moved on in search of a new food source, as termites travel through these tunnels looking for more food.
You should pay carful attention to any wood damage you find in your home. Termites eat wood from the inside out feeding along the grain. Signs of termite activity include wood that:
Is weak or easy to break through
Appears sunken in spots
Has visible cracks
Sounds hollow when you tap on it
If you suspect termites are responsible for the damage, examine it more closely by breaking off a piece. Little tunnels inside the wood are signs of termite infestation. If dry rot rather than termites is the problem, a fungus may be destroying the wood, causing it to feel moist and spongy.
However, if termites are the problem, they can eat away at your home's structure for years without you knowing it. Scheduling periodic termite inspections can catch an infestation in the early stages, saving you thousands of dollars in home repairs.