Signs of Termites

Last Updated: December 30, 2016

Some insects leave very little evidence behind. Not so with termites – these pests leave lots of evidence in their wake. Unfortunately, some of the signs of termites include the damage they leave behind; however, knowing what to watch for can help you protect your property from worse damage, and it can help you to prevent termite infestation in the future.

Drywood Termite Evidence

Unlike most termites, drywood termites need very little moisture to survive. Preferring to feed on dry wood and other dry materials containing cellulose (wood fiber), they burrow chambers and mazes of tunnels in the material they use for nesting and feeding. If you notice that walls, floors, or ceilings are sagging, this damage could be signs of termites living in these structures. If you see this in addition to some areas that appear to have suffered water damage or areas with paint that appears to be cracked or bubbling, you almost certainly have a drywood termite infestation.

Drywood Termite Droppings
Drywood Termite Droppings
Drywood Termite Wings
Drywood Termite Wings

Drywood termites leave another kind of evidence behind in the form of their fecal matter, which look a lot like small pellets made of sawdust. Of all the signs of termites, this is one of the easiest to identify. These termites are typically found in warm climates, particularly throughout the southern and southwest United States and in the coastal areas of California. Drywood termites don’t just attack beams and other structural elements; they can also infest hardwood flooring and they’ll even eat wood furniture.

Subterranean Termite Evidence

As the pests’ name suggests, subterranean termites occupy underground colonies. These insects create larger colonies than drywood termites do; there can be as many as five million workers in a single subterranean termite colony. One of the most prevalent signs of termites of this type is the presence of tunnels constructed of mud. These brown, cylindrical tunnels are often located near building foundations; if cracks are present in the foundation or if the foundation is unsealed, there’s a major risk that they could enter the home.

Subterranean Termite Mud Tubes
Subterranean Termite Mud Tubes

Subterranean termites do not leave solid waste behind as drywood termites do; instead, they simply excrete liquid. These termites need plenty of moisture to survive, so it’s sometimes possible to look for them drinking from moisture sources such as leaky pipes or areas where water from the outdoor environment enters a basement or other area you can access with ease.

While you’re checking for signs of termites, be sure to conduct tests to see whether you can find any areas of hollow sounding wood as this is a sign that termites could be present. Finally, all swarming termites (also referred to as flying termites) shed their wings after mating; both drywood and subterranean termites do this. Piles of transparent wings that look a bit like large fish scales are one of the most glaring signs of termites. If you see wings on a windowsill, near the foundation of your home, or on the ground, you can almost be certain that you are dealing with a termite infestation.

To learn about termite control measures you can take, and to determine which termite extermination options might be best for you, keep exploring our site. You’ll find helpful information for dealing with all termites, including those that are most prevalent in your area.

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