Termites cause an estimated $5 billion in damage to property every year. In order to protect against termites, experts advise that homeowners watch carefully for a few small-but-vital signs that termites are invading their home.
Exterior Signs: Mud Tubes and Termite Swarms
Physical signs of termites are sometimes present. Mud tubes are found on the outside of walls, usually down in the basement or outside of the house. Until a home’s wood siding, baseboards, etc. start chipping away, these are one of the only exterior signs that termites have invaded a home. These tunnels are one or two centimeters in diameter and can be either freestanding, perhaps from a ledge or awning, or run along the walls of a house from the ground up. Follow the mud tube from beginning to end and it will eventually disappear into the side of the home to which it is attached. These tubes are the termites’ transportation system from the ground and into a house.
If you notice a swarm of tiny insects following a period of rain be aware that you may have a termite infestation. Look for the termite characteristic of long wings equal in size and a thin body. Also, look for tiny wings scattered around the outside or around windowsills. Termites shed their wings after flight.
Interior Signs: Damage to Portions of Wood in the House
While damage to the home will not be initially apparent, after a while, the homeowner affected by termites will begin to notice that wall studs, baseboards, and floors that were once dense-sounding are now hollow. One scenario that is a common occurrence in the southern United States is the invasion of Formosan termites. These are the most destructive termites known in the U.S. and can cause bulging walls. While Formosan termites are subterranean, they nest above ground in a carton nest, a bit like wasp nests only on the ground.
“UMass Amherst: Building and Construction Technology » Controlling Termites and Carpenter Ants .” UMass Amherst: Building and Construction Technology . N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Aug. 2010. http://bct.nrc.umass.edu/index.php/publications/by-title/controlling-termites-and-carpenter-ants/.
“Termites Management Guidelines–UC IPM.” UC Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Aug. 2010. http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7415.html.
“Press Releases – Termite Season Starts Off With Swarms.” Pestworld.org, the official web site of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) – the trade association for exterminators. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Aug. 2010. http://www.pestworld.org/press-releases/termite-season-starts-off-with-swarms.