Identifying Signs of a Termite Infestation

Termites are beyond a nuisance to homeowners all over the United States.  Termites are responsible for
millions of dollars of damage to the American homeowner yearly.  In our present economic condition, American homeowners cannot afford to ignore the threat that termites pose to their home investment. reports,

Su (1994) estimated the annual cost of controlling termites
to be $1.5 billion in the United States. In 1993 the Wood Protection
Council of the National Institute of Building Sciences estimated the
annual costs of replacing wood damaged by termites to be $2 billion,
up from $750 million in 1988 (Anonymous 1993). These costs must be
higher today. The Formosan subterranean termite is thought to cause
$1 billion a year in losses in the United States. It is thought to be
the most destructive insect in Louisiana, affecting the economy and
wealth of the state even though its known range does not include the
entire state (Hu et al. 2000). Also, it is not widely distributed in
all parishes. Estimates of losses each year are $300 million in New
Orleans and $500 million in Louisiana.





Below we will look at the biology of termites and warning signs that they may be infesting your home.

There are two main types of termites that are regularly identified as a danger to homeowners across the
United States, Drywood termites and Subterranean termites.

As the name would imply, drywood termites are found inside of dry wood.  They do not need an external
moisture source or soil.  The eat the wood that they live in and may leave fecal pellets as evidence of their existence.

Subterranean termites can be found in wood or in the soil itself.  They do require moisture and soil.  You
will not see the fecal pellets that are expelled by drywood termites, but you may see a nest above ground that is composed of chewed wood,saliva and feces.  They may create mud tubes.  Mud tubes are small and the size of a straw and can be found over concrete, windows, or other areas where the termites have been.

Termites can infest your home at any time of the year, depending on your climate.  They will usually not
swarm during colder weather, but if you are in the south and have temperate climates, this may not apply to you.  Termites may swarm during early spring, late summer and early fall.  Often times you will see evidence of their wings near windows, even if you do not see the termites swarming.  You can inspect your home for evidence of the wings, mud tubes, or fecal pellets.

Another way to inspect your home is for “hollow wood”.  If you tap on the wood with the handle of a screw driver, you should be able to hear a hollow sound.  Especially damaged wood may even give way when you tap with the handle.

Stay tuned to our next post to see how to guard your home from a termite infestation.


Monica Bird (949 Posts)

Monica’s compassion for her customer's struggles with pest control issues and passion for pest control stems from over 10 years in the industry. With a master’s degree in entomology, she uses her knowledge and experience in chemistry, insects and pests to educate her customers.

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