Last Updated December 19th, 2022: Termites are vital to the ecosystem because they help to break down waste materials into simpler forms. As social insects, they build elaborate nests in suitable locations.
Sadly, termites are one of the most devastating species to humans and can attack wood to build elaborate nests within structures. These intruders are responsible for major damages to wood property worth millions of dollars. Hence, they are a threat to the integrity of wooden structures. In this guide, we’ll be looking at the 8 most common signs of termites and what to keep an eye on!
Termites can easily gain access into homes through very small crevices and cracks around buildings. When they invade your property, they start to establish themselves in wood.
Although there are different species of termites, the most common types that invade human property are the Subterranean and Drywood termites. The Subterranean termites, as their name implies, are evasive and difficult to detect. They build their tunnels deep into wood or underground. While Drywood termites live solely in dry wood, hence, they are easier to detect. Drywood termites are more notorious and cause extensive damage to wood.
8 Signs of A Termite Infestation
Identifying signs of termites infestation is one of the important steps to help you ensure their presence or absence. Detecting early signs of termites helps you treat them early and protect your property from damage. Before you seek the services of an expert, it would be best if you confirm the infestation. This article will explain 8 unmistakable signs of termites to look out for on your property.
1. Hollow-Sounding Dead Wood
When termites gain access to wood, they begin to form channels through it—by eating the inner parts of the wood. Timber damaged by termites looks dead, dried out, and gives a hollow sound when tapped. Termite damage also causes wood to become brittle and deteriorated from the inside out, making the wood lightweight and sometimes discolored.
Closely examine your wooden property, such as wood siding, furniture, flooring, wooden doors, and windows. You can try tapping or knocking on it. If it seems lighter, unusual, or sounds hollow, then it may be infested. This is one of the most prominent signs of termites.
2. Stiff Windows & Doors
Wooden doors and windows are more vulnerable to termite attacks because they are more exposed. This is why they should be regularly inspected for infestation, along with other wooded property. If you notice your door or window has become stiff or stuck, that could be an indication of termite damage. Doors and windows may begin to warp or go out of shape. As a result, they do not close or open properly. Also, other structures like wooden floors, ceilings, furniture, and baseboards may show signs of deterioration. These damages may be worsened by seasonal changes. Bacteria and fungi may get into the damaged areas and cause wood for and discoloration.
3. Low Chewing Sounds
Termites are nothing close to noisy—in fact, they barely make any sounds. However, while in their colonies, termites make low rapping or clicking sounds in your walls. This may be due to their movements and activities like chewing action. Soldier termites may be responsible for this action, as they have large mandibles that enable them to bite and chew wood. Termites can also make quiet movements within possibly infested areas like floors, windows, and doors.
While this is challenging to detect, it is an obvious sign of termite presence that is mostly accompanied by other visual signs to confirm the attack. In areas of suspected infestation, carefully listen to pick up any sound given off by termite movement. If you detect these sounds around possibly infested wood, do not hesitate to call a professional to confirm the presence of termites.
4. Winged Termites and Expelled Wings
Winged termites are also called swarmers, alates, or winged reproductives. At the onset of rain, the winged termites emerge and swarm to find a mate. They move to a different area to start a new colony. Some species are mostly nocturnal and are attracted to light, while other species are active in the daytime. This is one of the sure ways to detect termite presence. During this period, it is important to observe where the termites come from or retire.
Winged termites usually shed their wings after swarming and finding a mate. Detecting shed wings is also a good way to detect their presence. The color of their wings differs from one species to another. It sometimes looks membraneous, ranging from brown color to translucent. These termite wings are elongated, ranging between 6mm to 9.5 mm in length.
Termite swarmers are often inaccurately identified as flying ants. Although they seem very alike. Termite swarmers have even wings and straight bodies. While flying ants have segmented abdomens and a pair of uneven wings.
5. Mud Tubes
Mud tubes are one of the most obvious signs of termites in your home. Mud tubes are thin vein-like lines formed by termites to provide shelter and act as a guide to lead them to their nests. Termites begin to create these tubes from the ground towards their nests in the infested wood.
As the name suggests, mud tubes are made of mud and are as wide as a straw. They can be easily detected on exposed areas like walls and other surfaces. However, termites can also form these tubes in cracks, behind siding, and underneath the flooring. Some species of termites like the subterranean termites have thin outer skeletons. So, they use humid mud tubes to protect themselves from drying out. Ensure to check around your property for mud tubes. You may follow the trail up to a possible termite nest. Breaking up the tubes may not be effective in eliminating termites. Termites may just move to a different location and access food from there.
6. Wood Holes and Tunnels
When you begin to notice small holes in your wooden property, this is one of the tell-tale signs of termites. These termite holes usually look circular and tiny. When termites attack wood, they begin to consume it from the outside and form elaborate tunnels within.
Most termites build nests in some parts of the wood, using mud and sawdust. You may only see the tunnels if the wood is broken. Wood holes are one of the most visible signs of termite infestation. Look out for tiny, perfect holes on or around the wooden property such as doors, windows, flooring, and furniture.
7. Termite Droppings or Frass
This is another evidence of termite presence. Termite droppings (or “frass”), are waste material egested by termites. While consuming wood, termites have a build-up of waste which they move out of their nests. Frass is evident in some types of termites, especially drywood termites. These termites have wood-colored frass that comes in the form of pellets or dust. They tend to clean out their tunnels by moving out their droppings out of their nests. Contrarily, other types of termites, like the Subterranean termites, use their droppings to build their mud tunnels of nests.
Check out surfaces directly under wooden items like furniture. You may notice powder-like mass falling from a wooden structure, or settling on the surface. This is a possible sign that it may have been infested with termites.
8. Deterioration underneath Paint or Wallpaper
Termites can be evasive when they build tunnels or passageways beneath wall surfaces and wallpapers. Most times, when in action, they do not affect the surface paint or wallpaper. These pests can create extended galleries or channels underneath the wall or wood surface covering, making them difficult to discover.
Nevertheless, you can still notice signs of infestation on odd-looking wallpapers and painted surfaces. Some of these signs include bloated surface, tiny passage holes on covering, frass or droppings, unusual discoloration of paint or wallpaper, thin and depressed areas. Once you notice these unusual signs on your paint or wallpaper, you can peel off that part to be sure.
If you notice the above-listed signs of termites around your property, then it is confirmation that your wooden structures may be infested. You may consider getting rid of termites by yourself if you have a low infestation. However, termites can be difficult to get rid of, especially if you are not an expert. Hence, it is advised to seek a professional pest exterminator to help you eliminate termites.
What Are The First Signs Of Termites?
Some of the first signs of termites include termite wing piles, bubbling drywall, and mud tubes.
Is It Obvious If You Have Termites?
No, it’s not always obvious if you have termites. Termites are sneaky pests because they live mainly underground in or inside the structure of your home. This means their infestations can go on for years undetected.
Final Thoughts On The Signs Of Termites To Lookout For!
Termites are notorious pests that attack and damage wood structures. They consume wood and build nests within them. Termite activities within wood deteriorate and compromise its quality. If you suspect a termite infestation, there are signs you should look out for. These include stiff doors and windows, hollow and holey wood, droppings (or frass), winged termites, mud tubes, etc.
Termites often consume wood from the inside, leaving it dead and lightweight. They also pave way for secondary deterioration caused by bacteria and fungi, causing the wood to start decaying. If you notice these signs around your property, it means that termites may be infesting your wood. In that case, do not hesitate to get rid of them, either by yourself or with the help of an expert. If you want to do it yourself, check out our guide on how to get rid of termites! I hope these signs of termites have been helpful and will help keep your home protected!