Termites are tricky pests to deal with and they can cause costly damage to your property. The first step is learning how to detect an infestation. It can be nearly impossible to identify a termite infestation because there are very few, if any, visible indications. Termites are often referred to as “silent destroyers” because they can live in your home for years without showing any immediate signs of damage. As a homeowner you can better protect your property by knowing the warning signs of a termite infestation. As a Palm Beach County resident you should be especially vigilant because termites thrive in warm and moist climates, basically qualifying Palm Beach County as a termite’s paradise.
Watch Out for “Swarmers”
Winged termites are called “swarmers” because when a termite colony has matured it releases winged termites that swarm around trying to find a mate and start a new colony. Warmer temperatures and rainfall trigger swarmers, so they are most active in the spring from March to May. Swarmers are attracted to light sources, so they are most often found swarming around doors and windows. When you find swarms of winged termites outdoors then you do not have to worry, but if there are swarmers inside your home then there is probably a termite infestation in your house as well. While swarmers themselves do not pose a threat to your property, they are the most common and reliable indicator of a termite infestation.
In addition, swarmers discard their wings when they have entered their next stage of development, so a pile of shed wings is another warning sign alerting you to a termite infestation.
Check for Hollowed Wood
Wood that has been damaged by a termite will be hollowed out along the grain, and you can detect infestation by literally ‘knocking on wood’ to hear if it is indeed hollowed out, listen for a dull thud.
Notice Small Holes in Drywall and Plaster
Termites sometimes bore little holes through drywall or plaster walls to get to their food source, so you can inspect any drywall or plaster around your property to confirm the presence of a termite infestation. Holes that are caused by termites will have dirt around the edges.
Look for Mud Tubing
Subterranean termites make these mud tubes so that they can move safely between their underground colony and their food sources. These mud tubes are usually brown in color and they have a diameter that is about the width of a pencil. You can find these earthen tubes along foundation walls, support piers, sill plates, floor joists, etc. Cut the tubes open to look for termites inside in order to definitively know if the infestation is active, the termites inside will be small and white-ish in color. However you cannot use this method to rule out an infestation, if you do not find any termites in the tube then you probably just cut open an old tube that is no longer being used. Even though the tube is vacant, there may still be an active infestation elsewhere because termites will vacate sections of the mud tubing to forage for new food sources in other locations.
Be Aware of Frass
Termite droppings and insect feces in general are called “frass.” Subterranean termites use their feces as building materials when constructing the mud tubing. On the other hand, drywood termites leave behind small piles of droppings in the form of pellets, so if you find any strange piles of pellets around your home then you may have a termite infestation.
Other Visible Warnings
To detect a termite infestation you should look out for cracked or bubbling paint, sagging floors and ceilings, cracks in the veneer or maze-like tunneling in the wood, and sunken or rippled wall coverings. All of these minor damages could be warning signs for a larger termite problem in your home.
While it is tricky to detect a termite infestation, it is even more difficult to treat one. Once you are aware of a termite infestation in your home, your best option is to call a professional who specializes in termite treatment.
Maluniu. “Identify a Termite Infestation.” WikiHow. Mediawiki, Web. <http://www.wikihow.com/Identify-a-Termite-Infestation>.
Potter, Mike. “Termite Control: Answers for Homeowners.” Entomology at the University of Kentucky. University of Kentucky, Web. <https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef604>.
“Signs of Termite Infestation: Inspecting Homes for Termites.” Termite Control. Do-It-Yourself Pest Control, Web.