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How to Tell If You Have a Termite Problem

July 11, 2017

Termite infestations are notorious for the damage they can do to a home. Unfortunately, it can be very hard to tell that you have an infestation until it's too late, and if you've never experienced one, you may be unaware of the warning signs.

As if that wasn't bad enough, even if you believe your home is resistant, almost every property in the United States is at potential risk for a termite infestation. With colony populations that can reach into the hundreds of thousands, failure to identify a colony in time can lead to disaster.

Here are a few telltale signs that your home may have a termite problem:

Discarded Wings

Like many insects, termites go through a complex lifecycle, starting as eggs, molting into nymphs, and finally maturing into one of three castes: workers, soldiers, or reproductives. While workers and soldiers remain wingless, reproductive termites enter an "alate" form, in which they grow wings and take part of a mating flight, or swarm.

At the end of the mating flight, the male and female alates shed their wings and head underground to create a new colony as the king and queen, never to return to the surface. In time, after the colony has grown large enough, new reproductives will emerge and continue the cycle.

One of the earliest warning signs of a termite infestation is the presence of small discarded wings near the home, so be on the lookout. Take a walk around your home's perimeter and inspect the ground thoroughly for any wings.

Termite Frass

When termites consume cellulose from wood, they leave behind droppings called "frass." Termite frass greatly resembles sawdust from a distance, but if you look closely, you'll be able to see that it's actually made up of many small, granular pellets of varying colors.

As with any other pest, droppings are always one of the surest signs of infestation, so keep a lookout for termite frass, especially near windows, doors, and other entrances to the home.

Hollow Wood

Termites are always tunneling, both as a means of getting cellulose to feed on and to increase the size of the colony. If termites have gotten into your home, this likely means that they'll have started making tunnels in the walls.

Inspect your walls, doors, and wooden furniture for tunnels by knocking on them. If you hear a weakened or hollow sound, it may be an indication that termites are tunneling within.

Mud Tunnels

In addition to tunneling into the wood of your home, termites will also tunnel into mud nearby. These tunnels are built both as a means to provide moisture to the colony and to help the termites commute back and forth from the colony and your home safely.

As with other warning signs, conduct a thorough inspection of your home's immediate surroundings for mud tunnels.

Damage to Floors, Walls, and Ceilings

When termites eat away at your home's floors, walls, and ceilings, they damage their structural integrity. This often results in wood cracking or becoming discolored, and can even cause a potent smell of mildew.

If you're experienced loose boards, discolored wood, damaged baseboards, sagging floorboards, or noticeable cracks and crevices in your home's ceilings and wall crevices, it may be time to call an exterminator.

Difficulty Opening Doors and Cabinets

Termites love to dig into the corners of doors, cabinets, and windows, and will happily chew away at their frames. Over time, the damage will cause the frame to become misshapen, making them much more difficult to open and close.

If you've begun to notice that doors and windows around the house are sticking or jamming, it might be an early sign of termites.

When it comes to termites, and the damage they cause, you can't be too cautious. If you're interested in learning more about termites, their life cycle, and how you can identify an infestation before the damage is done, download our free Ebook, The Lifecycle of a Termite Colony, and start protecting your home today.