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5 Signs of Termites: DIY Inspection

Termites are hard to find, but there are five major signs that give them away. Checking for these signs could save you thousands of dollars of home repairs and will help you stop an infestation in your home in Baton Rouge, LA before it starts.

If you find these signs, we suggest that you look into professional pest control right away. DIY Termite treatments can be frustrating, time-consuming, and a waste of your precious time and money.

1. Frass — Termite Excrement

The first and probably most common sign of a termite problem is termite droppings, which are known as frass. Because termites eat wood, frass usually looks like tiny wooden pellets or piles of sand. The termites open a hole from their tunnels into the open air and deposit the pellets in a pile to keep them out of the way.

You can think of termites as little housekeepers — they like to keep their tunnels free of debris.

If you find a pile of sawdust or a sandlike substance, clean it up and watch the spot over the next few days. If the pile appears again, chances are good you’ve found a frass dump. That’s when you’ll know it’s a good time to contact a pest professional for help.

2. Mud Tunnels

Subterranean termites are dependent on the soil for shelter and moisture. These are one of the only types of termites that like to make these tiny superhighways to connect their underground colonies to a source of wood.

Termites make mud tunnels above the ground out of dirt and their own saliva to travel up buildings, like superhighways that hundreds or thousands of termites use. Because termites have relatively soft exoskeletons, they design the mud tubes to prevent their body water from evaporating in the open air and to protect them from predators.

You might find a mud tunnel branching up a concrete foundation, the vinyl siding of a house, a metal post, or even the side of a telephone pole.

Pro Tip:

To find out whether you’re dealing with an active nest, break open a piece of the mud tube. If the nest is still active, either the termites will repair the damage right away or you’ll come back in a couple of days to find the mud tube completely repaired. If the tubes are untouched after a week, the mud tunnels were probably left behind from an old termite nest.

3. Swarmers

Every year (usually during the spring), mature termite queens release hundreds of new reproductive termites, which are called swarmers. These winged kings and queens will fly away from the nest to find a mate and start a new colony, a process known as swarming. Before they dig in and start to make a nest, however, their wings fall off and litter the ground.

If you see winged termites inside or somewhere in the yard, chances are good you have a termite infestation. You’re more likely to see the discarded wings than an actual termite, though, so check for them thoroughly in and around your house.

The Difference Between Ant and Termite Swarmers

Both ant and termite colonies send out swarmers every year, so you’ll want to tell the difference between them. Ants aren’t as serious a threat to your home as termites are. But a professional inspector might still be needed to identify them.

1. Wings

  • Ants have four wings of different lengths
  • Termites have four wings of equal length

2. Antennae

  • Ant antennae have an elbow bend in the middle
  • Termites have straight antennae that look like a string of beads

3. The “Waist”

  • Ant bodies have a thin “waist” where the abdomen connects to the thorax
  • Termites have a thick waist

4. Wood Damage

Did you know termites will eat anything, from wall studs to ceiling beams, books, furniture, and even wallpaper? It can be tough to find, but wood damage is a sure sign of an infestation.

Termites eat wood from the inside out, so you’ll have to check beyond the surface. Starting on the exterior door and window frames or wooden deck (if you have one), take a screwdriver or wooden dowel and tap along the whole length of the wood, listening for a hollow sound. You can also press your hand to the wood and feel for weaknesses.

Termites will chew tunnels behind the sheetrock, which will make the wall surface ripple or bubble. Check for unevenness, bubbles, and shadows by setting a flashlight against the wall and splashing the light across it.

Unlike other wood-destroying insects, termite tunnels are completely smooth and typically run with the grain.

5. Listen for Tapping and Scratching

While they’re chewing through wood, termites sometimes make high-frequency sounds, which are easiest to hear at night when everything is quiet.

Some termite scratching is either too high-pitched or too soft for adult ears to hear, and only children can hear it. If your child frequently reports scratching in the walls, it might not be their imagination but something you’ll want to look into further.

Keep in Mind:

Termites aren’t the only insects that destroy wood, and many of them make sounds while they’re excavating. Powder post beetles, carpenter ants, and even wasps can also scratch and grind at wood for shelter or to make galleries, and they’re not the only ones either. Mice and rats also make scratching sounds at night, so if you suspect anything is in the walls, call a pest control professional to help you identify and address the problem.

What To Do Next

If you’ve ever tried to take on termites by yourself, you know how hard it can be. Although there are products you can use that will help kill termites — food-grade diatomaceous earth, boric acid, and termite baits are just a few — the most cost-efficient and least time-consuming solution is to call a professional.

Fox Pest Control can be that company for you. When you call, you aren’t just hiring a pest control company. You’re joining a family that cares about you and wants to restore your peace of mind.

Call today to discuss the termite treatment plan that works best for you and your home.

We get the job done right the first time, so when you think pest control, think Fox Pest Control. Because No Bugs is Simply Better.

Posted on March 11, 2020.

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