Serving Memphis, Cordova, Germantown & Collierville TN
Termites – those tiny yet mighty wood-devouring insects – can wreak havoc on your home if left undetected. Often referred to as the “silent destroyers,” termites can cause extensive damage to the structural integrity of your property before you even notice their presence. Every year, termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in damages, and most insurance plans don’t cover the damage. Early detection is crucial in preventing costly repairs and preserving your home’s value. In this article, we will explore what to look for to help you spot termites around your home, enabling you to take proactive measures and stop them from damaging your property.
Understanding the Types of Termites
Before diving into the signs of termite infestation, it’s essential to understand the different types of termites commonly found in and around homes.
The three primary types are:
- Subterranean Termites: These termites build their colonies in the soil and travel through mud tubes to reach wooden structures above ground. These termites cause the most damage of all termite species. They eat wood 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Over time, they can damage a building’s structure, sometimes causing the total collapse of a building. This type of termite can be found in every state except Alaska, although they are most common in the humid, subtropical south between Florida and California.
- Drywood Termites: Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not require soil contact and can nest directly within wooden structures. Once they have gained entrance to a structure, they can spread throughout the building easily. Drywood termites are less common than subterranean termites and are found primarily on the coast and in southern and Southwestern states. Though they are less common, their ability to damage property is still substantial.
- Dampwood Termites: These termites thrive in damp and decaying wood and do not typically nest in the soil. They invade wood that is on the ground – especially if it is decaying. They are common in areas with high moisture levels, such as areas along the Pacific coast. However, they can also be found in the Southwest desert and southern Florida.
How to tell if you have Termites
- Mud Tubes on Exterior Walls: Subterranean termites construct mud tubes to maintain moisture levels as they travel from their colonies in the ground to the wooden elements of your home. These tubes look like pencil-thin tunnels made of wood and soil running along exterior walls, foundations, or crawl spaces. If you spot these mud tubes, it’s a clear indication of termite activity and you should call a termite specialist immediately.
- Discarded Wings: Reproductive termites, known as swarmers, take flight during specific seasons to establish new colonies. After mating, they shed their wings and look for a suitable nesting site. If you see winged insects emerging from the soil, or if you find discarded wings near windows, doors, or light fixtures, it could indicate a termite swarm in or around your home.
- Damaged Wood: Termites feed on the cellulose in wood, weakening its structure from the inside out. If you tap or knock on wooden surfaces, and they produce a hollow sound, it may be a sign of termite damage. You can also probe at the wood with a screwdriver. Severely damaged wood is easily pierced. Drywood termites leave piles of wood powder or pellets where they burrow. They can also cause wood to look blistered by tunneling too close to the surface. Dampwood termites, on the other hand, can cause wood to feel soft to the touch. Wood that is infested with dampwood termites usually does not show external damage because the openings are plugged with fecal material. All of these signs can be found in wooden furniture and other fixtures as well as houses and necessitate a thorough inspection annually.
Other Signs of Termite Presence
- Termite Droppings (Frass): Drywood termites expel their feces from tiny holes in the infested wood, leaving behind termite droppings, or frass. These fecal pellets are usually small, elongated, and have a distinct color, varying according to the type of termite. If you find these droppings near wooden structures, it’s time to investigate further.
- Sagging Floors and Ceilings: As termites consume the internal wooden structures, floors and ceilings may start to sag or show signs of warping. Pay attention to any noticeable changes in the level of floors or ceilings, as this could be an indication of extensive termite damage.
- Clicking Noises in Walls: When a termite colony is disturbed, such as when knocking on wood, soldier termites may make clicking or rustling sounds as a defense mechanism. If you hear strange noises coming from within walls or wooden structures, it’s worth investigating further for termite activity.
- Tight-Fitting Doors and Windows: Termites produce moisture as they tunnel through wood, causing it to swell. As a result, doors and windows may become difficult to open or close smoothly. If you notice this issue without any apparent reason, it could be a sign of termite damage.
Spotting termites around your home requires vigilance and a keen eye for the subtle signs of infestation. By being proactive and keeping an eye out, you can catch termite infestations early on, saving yourself from extensive damage and expensive repairs. Remember, if you suspect termite activity, it’s best to consult with a professional pest control expert like AAA Termite & Pest Control who has been trusted with protecting homes in Memphis and the Mid-South for more than 50 years.
Give us a call at (901) 457-1117 if you think you have termites or would like an inspection!