Here’s How to Identify Termite damage
How to start a crappy day: discover that you have holes in your walls, wooden furniture, or other plant-based belongings.
How to make the day a bit less crappy: figure out what’s responsible for the damage, so you can hopefully get rid of it before it costs you thousands of dollars in repairs.
It’s important to identify and exterminate termites quickly.
Termites will eat pretty much anything that has cellulose in it, which includes most plant matter.
To get at a desired food source, or to create an entrance to a structure where they intend to build a nest, they can chew through anything that’s softer than their rock-hard mandibles – including drywall, plastic, and even thin sheets of lead!
Because of their broad diet, the capacity to bore through most substances, and ability to produce over 30,000 eggs per day, termites can cause a vast amount of damage if left unchecked. In fact, termites cost Americans approximately $5 billion every year!
So if you’ve noticed possible signs of termite damage, it’s important to determine and remove the source of the problem as soon as possible.
How to identify termite damage:
Your first sign of termites will often be the damage they do.
Termites prefer soft, pale springwood over harder, darker summerwood, so they’ll often leave springwood looking like honeycomb and the intact summerwood looking like thick sheets of paper.
Some of the holes at the exits of the nest may be plugged; these are escape holes that aren’t currently in use.
Below or around the exit holes, you might see small piles of something resembling wood shavings. These are frass or termite droppings.
On buildings where the termites can’t tunnel directly through the ground-level material, they often create shelter tubes out of mud so they can climb the walls without drying out. These tunnels, also known as mud leads, look like jagged lines of mud, and will usually be seen on the foundation of your building.
How to identify termites:
If you want to see the bugs responsible for the damage, but they’re safely hidden inside the walls, you can lure them out by using flat, damp strips of cardboard as bait. Cardboard is rich in cellulose, so the termites will be attracted to it.
As a bonus, once the trap is covered in insects and you’ve collected a specimen or two for identification, you can burn the infested cardboard strip and thus kill a small portion of your termite infestation. Rinse and repeat to reduce, or at least slow the growth of, the population of the termite nest.
Now that you’ve got a couple sample insects, it’s time to see if they’re actually termites.
Here are some features you can use to identify termites:
- Their length and color.
The workers’ bodies are creamy white and a quarter of an inch long, and sometimes have brown blotches. The soldiers are about the same length, but they have elongated yellowish heads with large black mandibles that curve inward and have sharp tips.
The kings and queens are dark brown or black, and about three-eighths of an inch to half an inch long.
- Their waists.
Termites’ waists are thicker than ants’, which can help you to tell them apart from burrowing ant species such as carpenter ants.
- Their antennae.
Termites’ antennae are straight, unlike the bent antennae of ants.
- Their wings.
Young termite kings and queens have two sets of translucent wings, which carry them to the site of a potential new nest before breaking off. These shed wings are often the only warning building owners get that termites are in the structure before they’ve caused massive damage.
Swarms of winged termites are the most likely to be seen between February and June. Unlike flying ants, which have permanent wings of unequal length, termites have two sets of equally long wings.
Once the queen has shed her wings and started to breed, her torso becomes white and massively swollen.
I’ve identified the bugs, and they’re termites! Now what?
As mentioned above, you can use wet cardboard traps to lure out termites and burn them. You can also use beneficial nematodes, which burrow into termite larvae, kill them within a couple days, then use the corpse as a spawning ground.
These methods can get rid of a small infestation, or at least slow its growth. But with their fast breeding and their tendency to work their way deep into the structures they infest, termites often establish themselves too soundly for the colony to be wiped out through do-it-yourself methods.
If you don’t catch the nest just as it’s starting, you could be in danger of losing thousands of dollars to costly repairs, and you’re going to need professional help to get rid of this deep-rooted infestation.
To get a custom plan to exterminate your termite problem and make sure it never comes back, call us today at (724) 601-3223, or email us here to arrange a time for us to give you a free inspection and quote.