The key to containing an infestation from further reproduction and structural damage is to act upon seeing the symptoms. But most homeowners don’t have a clue whether their house is infested or not. More often, they would only have knowledge of the pest once it incurs visible damage on your property that’s more likely in the advanced in stage already. So the key here is detecting the signs of termite damage early and acting on it right away.
Here, I listed some of the signs that your house has unwanted inhabitants munching through the wood day in and day out.
1. Mud tubes
Are you seeing lines of packed soil going to your house? Mud tubes are the telltale signs that a termite colony is already in the works in your garden and living space. They use these paths to have a secure gateway to the direction of the food source. Subterranean termites have very sensitive exoskeletons and they have to hide on mud tubes to retain the body moisture that keeps them alive.
The presence of mud tubes is also a sign that the termites have already established a colony on your property. These insects are highly organized from their hierarchy and harborage and they are likely to have a massive network underground.
Termite excrement is called frass. This is the sand-like dust that you can see near wood structures. Most of the time, there are ‘kick-out holes’ in the infested wood that the termites use to remove the frass out their harborage. In short, frass is your wooden beam or furniture in powdered form. The color of the excrement would match the color of wood the pest ate.
Before vacuuming and cleaning your house, check the windowpane, baseboards, and other wooden parts for the signs of termite damage. You can apply pesticides on the wood material you suspect of being infected.
Subterranean termites start their colony under the ground where moisture is consistent and there’s less natural harm. Once they are in large numbers, millions, for example, there would be mounds that will form above the soil. This could be up to two feet high for typical gardens while it can soar up to 10 feet in the wild.
Don’t smash the mound just yet, instead, pour a potent termiticide on it. It’s best to seal the holes where the mites could escape during the treatment. You can always hire professional exterminators to do this for you.
4. Arboreal nest
Termites can harbor in the ground but it can also build a colony on tree branches by forming arboreal nests. The termites could forage on the host tree and make the inside part hollow. It could be a dead or a living tree, and since they are hidden inside, the pest is hard to detect unless the large chunk of mound-like mud surfaces from the tree. In this case, the signs of termite damage are to a massive extent and there’s a need to hire a professional exterminator.
Trimming your garden trees would help in discouraging the termites to stay within the foliage.
5. Discarded wings
Before the termites establish a large colony, the alates or the winged mites would undergo the molting stage. This is after they find a suitable place for starting a colony. Once the wings are off, the kings and queens of the colony would mate and produce workers and soldiers. The mites are good at hiding their selves but not the wings they discarded. Check your windows as these are the places where the termites like shedding the wings.
Again, avoid vacuuming the area without doing a quick visual inspection. Most households fail to see the obvious sign because it’s been sucked into the machine.
6. Hollow-sounding, spongy wood
The easiest trick to check if the termites are eating on your wood is to knock on it. If it sounds hollow than its usual acoustics, you might be close to finding a whole group of termites endlessly munching on the wood. You can also press a finger on the suspected wood and see if it has a spongy feel. If the finger was able to crack the wood open, you should perform extermination methods.
Sometimes, the eaten material will need replacement but it’s better to treat the infestation first before doing this. Putting a fresh block of wood will only fuel the signs of termite damage.
7. Ticking sounds on wood
The soldier termites bang their bodies on the surface of the wood once they sense danger. This is to alarm the whole colony of a looming threat and for the workers to evacuate the area. Put your ear on the wood and you’ll surely hear the agony of the soldier termites as they use their body for the distress signal. The sound won’t be too loud to as it would only be tiny ticking thuds on the wood.
There would also be tapping sounds on wood that is highly infested with termites. The minute grinding sound would be amplified as thousands of termites munch on wood simultaneously.
8. Saggy floor
Termites harboring on the ground could make a tunnel going to your house’s floorboards, and without any barrier to separate it from the soil, it becomes the most convenient food source. The pest won’t go surface level right away. They will start on the most hidden part until your floor starts to sag and you’ll discover a hollow space. The alarming fact is that mite-infested floors are only discovered once the damage is already done.
Still, you can practice detecting measures like walking and knocking on the floor to see if it produces a hollow sound. You might also hear the signs of termite damage if you place your ear close to the floor.
9. Bubbling paint
Bubbling paint could be the result of different factors like too much heat or water leaks. But in wooden materials, bubbling paint means that the termites had already eaten their way into the surface. The paint will start to have welt-like bubbles and if not addressed early, what’s left of the wooden material would fall off.
One should be careful in jumping to the conclusion that there’s a termite infestation. Check if there are other causes why the paint is bubbling. The quality of the coat would also play a factor here.
Some termite species would produce a certain smell during the infestation. It’s not musty like how bedbugs smell but it’s something that’s close to petroleum or chemical. This comes from the frass they produce that is basically digested wood. The fecal matter of termites could stick to walls and give your home an unsightly stain and unpleasant odor.
The smell of chipped wood could also be associated with termites but that’s hard to confirm if there’s carpentry work going on.
The signs of termite damage could be hard to detect during the early stages of the infestation. But if you keep a close watch on the risk factors and behavior of the pest, you can spot frass, mud tubes, wings, and other signs even before the colony managed to establish its members in large numbers. So read this again and don’t ignore the signs!