- Carpenter ants
- House flies and fruit flies
- Silverfish, millipedes, and centipedes
- Bed bugs
- Dust mites
Termites are among the most dangerous and destructive insect infestations experienced by homeowners in the Carolinas and Virginia. In reality, almost anywhere you live, termites can be an issue.
If you happen to live in Alaska, you can rest easy. Termites won’t be bothering you anytime soon. For those of us in the rest of the 49 states, these pests can wreak unbelievable havoc on our homes. Small but mighty termites cause about $5 billion in property damage annually.
Your share of that could be thousands - and it is not typically covered by homeowners insurance. When you can spot the signs of termite damage early, you can take proactive steps to keep them from munching away on your home. Better yet, you can learn how to keep them from setting up camp in the first place!
HOW TO IDENTIFY TERMITES
Subterranean termites and drywood termites are the two most typical forms of termites you'll encounter. It's critical to determine whatever sort of termite you're dealing with, as different treatment procedures may be required.
These termites can be located in your home's foundational timber, soil, and compost piles. They wander around your house by making mud tubes or trails from wood and earth. Because of their saw-toothed jaws, they cause more damage than drywood termites.
Soldier termites have brown heads but have the same pale cream color as worker termites. Reproductive termites are black, brown, or creamy white in color. Subterranean termite colonies can grow to be massive, with populations ranging from 100,000 to one million termites.
Unlike subterranean termites, which require soil contact to survive, drywood termites can live entirely in wood. They do not migrate in mud tubes and are exclusively found in warm coastal areas.
Termites that cause direct harm to wood, such as subterranean termites, are white. The color of some of their wings ranges from yellow to light brown.
Only 2,500 termites can live in a drywood colony.
Termites Are Wood-Destroying Insects
Termites are a type of wood-destroying insect. Wood-destroying insects can do significant damage and cost homeowners a lot of money in repairs. From a previous blog:
“The key to reducing the damage done by WDIs is early identification. You want to catch them as quickly as possible. However, they are often smart enough to hide out of plain sight, in places like your basement or crawlspace.”
DO I REALLY HAVE TERMITES?
Carpenter ants are often mistakenly identified as termites. (The image above is of capenter ants.) Carpenter ants are gigantic in comparison to other ants. Their mandibles are massive, and their thorax is extra-large and spherical. They're normally black, but they can be red or yellow as well. If you notice a colony, there's a good chance you have one near or inside your house.
Carpenter ants do not eat your home; therefore, they do not inflict the same level of damage as termites. However, they should not be neglected. They want to form a colony, and if your house has some moist, rotting wood, they could be attracted to you. Signs you have carpenter ants include:
- There is excess moisture in your home.
- There is water damage in your home.
- There are wood shavings in your basement, crawlspace, wooden stair, and near wood furniture.
- There is the sound of mild tapping inside your walls or beneath your floors.
- There are hollow places in your steps, walls, or flooring.
Termites can also be mistaken for flying ants. Here is a video to help you tell the difference.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS YOU HAVE A TERMITE INFESTATION?
If you have termites, you may notice:
- Mud Tubes. Subterranean termites nest underground. They need a warmer, more humid environment, so they create tubes, or tunnels, that block cool, dry air and lead them to their food source - your house. You’ll see these tubes, which are about the size of a pencil, where the ground meets your foundation.
- Blistering in Wood Floors. These subterranean pests can also damage your subfloor. Your floor will look like it has water damage, and you’ll see blisters on the surface. You may also notice that your floors and/or ceilings look swollen.
- A Moldy Odor. Subterranean termites emit an odor that is similar to mold and mildew.
- Droppings. Drywood termites prefer to nest directly in their food source. They eat through the wood and keep their tunnels clean by building little holes into which they remove their droppings. Their excrement looks like sawdust or coffee grounds.
- Visible Maze-Like Tunnels. When a termite infestation is severe, you will start to see cracks in the wood veneer and network of tunnels. If the tunnels appear erratic, smooth, and contain evidence of droppings, it’s likely drywood termites, which eat across grains. If the pattern is more “neat” and there is mud or dirt evident, it’s likely subterranean termites.
- Hollowed Wood. As termites chew through the wood, they leave long grooves. These weaken the wood and cause structural issues. You may hear a hollow sound if you tap on the surface, and you may be able to see a honeycomb pattern.
- Discarded Wings. Termites will swarm to mate and establish a new colony. They won’t need their wings anymore, so they twist them off. You may find them near doors, windows, and other access points.
Termites can eat a path of destruction through your home, costing you thousands of dollars. To prevent infestations:
- Make sure shrubbery is planted at least 12 inches from the exterior walls of your home. This makes it less hospitable for subterranean termites, and you’ll be able to notice mud tubes earlier.
- Replace mulch with pine needles, pea gravel, or a non-organic alternative. This will deter termites and other pests, like ants.
- Limit moisture around your home. The pine needles, gravel, or non-organic covering will help dry out the area and be sure your sprinklers don’t point at your foundation.
- Remove firewood, lumber, leaves, and other organic debris away from the exterior walls of your home. You want to limit the cozy nesting spots for termites as much as possible.
- If you have a crawl space, make sure it is properly ventilated. Your pest control service can also apply a vapor barrier to minimize moisture.
Termites build colonies in yards and then migrate to the foundations of houses. They can get in through gaps and fractures around wires and pipelines. If you have wooden decks or porches that are in direct contact with the ground, firewood piles against the home, moist soil near the foundation, or bushes and trees planted very close to the structure, you may attract these animals.
Termites are known as the "silent destroyer" for a reason. They are busily devouring cellulose-based plant materials in your home, even if you don't detect any immediate indicators of an infestation. Plastic, paper, and drywall are all edible to them. They'll find something to eat no matter what material your house is made of.
If you are seeing signs of termite damage or you want to prevent these pests from invading your home, contact the Rid-a-Bug team. As we like to say, “When we appear, bugs disappear.”