Mosquitoes flying around

Learn the Warning Signs of Termites

July 04, 2022

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

Termites are capable of compromising the structural integrity of your home. But there are ways you can prevent a devastation of damage by identifying a termite infestation and staying ahead of it. 

Do you know the warning signs of termites? Learn what to look for to better understand the risks, to keep your family safe, and to make sure your house stands strong.

What are signs of a termite infestation?

To locate termite activity, think about the activities and goals of a termite colony. Since they use wood for shelter and for food, any wooden structures or piles of wood in or around your home are a good place to start your search. 

It’s important to go outside to examine any termite-friendly spots too. That lumber pile by the shed may be full of rotting wood that is great shelter and nutrition for termites. The wood chips under your kids’ playground is another prime location. If you can locate termites outside of your home, you may be able to stop them before they go inside. 

Once you’ve searched your home and property for termite activity, take a look at this list of potential clues you may have missed. While it isn’t fully comprehensive, it’s a great way to hone in your termite assessment. 

  • Water-damaged appearance on walls (even though it’s not water)
  • Walls that sound hollow when you knock on them
  • Tiny pin-prick holes in walls or wood
  • Loose floor or wall tiles
  • Tiny hexagonal droppings, usually found in mounds
  • Extra squeaky floors
  • Doors and windows that suddenly feel stuck
  • Maze-like patterns in any wooden surface
  • Piles of termite pellets (pieces of wood that are damaged and discarded)
  • Discarded wings leftover from swarms
  • Mud tubes (tiny mud tunnels that allow termites to explore)

What do a termite’s discarded wings look like?

When flying termites are done swarming, they often shed their temporary wings because that transportation form is no longer needed. The discarded wings are what you’ll find around your house. They look paper thin and are typically light in color, like the image below.

Fun fact: Termite swarms only include winged adults that leave their colony to start a new one. This is an important part of the termite life cycle because the flying termites are also the reproductive termites. However, when you see flying termites, it is a sign that an increased infestation could be occurring in or around your home.

After a swarm, you might also see an increase in termite droppings as new colonies develop in your home. That’s why tracking the frequency and volume of droppings is a helpful way to assess the probability of a termite infestation.

What are termite mud tubes?

Mud tubes are the “hallways” that connect one termite colony to another in or under your home. They look exactly as they sound—mud packed into a tube-like shape that bugs can travel through.

What kind of termite damage is common?

A termite infestation can cause any type of structural damage, including damage to pipes, insulation, and support beams. The decreased integrity of the wood from termite activity is a main concern for homeowners with termites. It can get brittle from the excessive hollowing out as termites dig and eat through support beams and structures.

Most termite damage isn’t obvious unless you know what to look for, which is why an unchecked termite infestation can be dangerous. If your home isn’t structurally sound, there could be safety issues for you and your family as the wood continues to deteriorate. 

Even though there are some helpful home remedies, like essential oils such as vetiver oil, clove bud, and garlic oil to mitigate the effects of termite damage and to repel termites from your home, a professional pest control service is able to find the source of the problem and treat it so that you don’t have to worry about termite infestation and damage.

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