What Are the Signs of Termites in Wood? What Do You Should Do, if Termites Infested Wood?
Termites are small social insects, who are similar in morphology and physiology to representatives of cockroaches. They are the oldest and the most primitive social insects. Termites sometimes are taken for ants, that why they are sometimes called the “white ants.”
Facts about termites
Termites live in nests communities, wood or soil. There are different species of termites, more than 4000, but the most known of them are: drywood, subterranean, dampwood ones. Drywood termites as their name implies live in dry wood (in trees, in furniture, in different wooden elements in a house).
Subterranean termites require most, that is why they usually live in the soil and dampwood termites live in wood buried in the ground. Termites’ lifestyle is secretive. Sometimes it’s very difficult to discover them.
Getting into the house, termites destroy paper, wood, and all household items that contain cellulose. Sometimes this leads to disastrous consequences. That’s why it’s strongly recommended to take precautions to prevent the infestation and entry of these insects into a dwelling.
Termites’ families are characterized by the division of all family members into different groups: winged insects that are able to reproduce new individuals, wingless sterile soldiers and working animals. The differences of the castes are evident.
People think that termites are always a bad sign, but sometimes termites in trees may be even very useful. For example, when they make a nest in the tree, it can be used by birds as a shelter. Termites play a positive role in nature, especially subterranean ones. Along with earthworms and ants, they have a significant role in the cycle of soil structures.
Also an important role of termites is in the food chain as they are prey for many predatory animals. But if there are too many termites in the tree, they may do great harm to it. They can cause huge harm not only to trees but also to the house, that’s why it’s very important to know the termite signs on wood.
Signs of termites’ infestation in trees
As it was mentioned above, termites live is quite secretive: they can live both inside the trees or in the soil under the ground. Though there are some signs of termites in wood which can help you to detect termites in the trees earlier before they cause great damage.
Entrance holes in the trees. Entrance holes look like round holes and may be found in different parts on the surface of the tree and in branches. Entrance holes usually indicate presence of termites.
Surface of a tree infested with termites. Termites built their nests under the ground or in the trees. Termites’ nests consist of fecals, chewed wood, saliva, soil. If termites live in the tree, it may look like a big nest. You may also see mud shelter tubes which are very noticeable, different small holes and tunnels, hollowed-out areas of tree, sawdust. The surface of the termite infested wood is always soft.
Traces of termites’ activity (fecals). Traces of termites’ activity may include frass, droppings and pellets. Drywood termites live inside of wooden constructions and also trees. As they live in places where they feed themselves, they are almost never seen out of the colony. Nevertheless, they leave traces of their presence. Drywood termites push fecal balls and litter out of their tunnels and chambers.
These barrows are the color of wood (rarely they are dark), look like small granules, and they are accumulated on the ground near the infected section of the tree. The droppings are very small looking like sand or granules and about 1-2 mm in diameter, but they can be observed and detected with careful examination. It is important to know that pellets and droppings do not always indicate a 100% presence of drywood termites in the tree. This has to be checked, because it is possible that they already left one tree for another.
Mud tubes. Mud tubes is one of the most noticeable sign of termites’ infestation. Mud tubes look like small tunnels always made of soil, wood and debris, which connect the nest of termites with a food source, i.e. wood. Mud tubes are often found near the trees, they go from the base of the tree to its top.
You can break the mud tube and find termites, which means infestation. But if you broke the mud tube and you did not find termites, it does not mean that they are no longer there. Perhaps they moved to another nearby tree. In this case be very careful and inspect all the other trees that are nearby. If after some time that mud tube that you broke is rebuilt again, this means infection with termites.
Physical damage of the trees. As the main food of termites is cellulose, which is mostly in the trees, they live inside the trees and do harm to them. Trees infested with termites become weaker because of big number of tunnels and holes. Owners of the garden should be very precise detecting the trees in their gardens. Dying or already dead branches may detect the infestation with termites. In this case, if you suspect something strange, take a screwdriver and knock on the tree.
As damaged and infested wood is empty inside, you will hear a completely different sound than when you knock on a healthy tree. Also when tapped you can hear a knock in response. This means that the termite soldiers warn the other termites of danger.If the screwdriver falls inside the tree, it’s likely infested with termites, as infested tree is always soft.
One more variant – take a knife and cut a piece of a tree’s bark. You may also see termites or traces of their presence. Termites create a lattice appearance in woods. But these are not all signs of termites in the tree. If you found swarmers or their wings (wings mean that they have already switched to another phase), it means that the nest of termites is somewhere nearby.
Most of termites are subterranean who without any difficulty may come to your house through a huge network of underground tunnels. Termites are a real danger. If you are afraid that you are helpless, call a professional disinfector, who will definitely help you to destroy the termites’ colony.
Effects from termites are very destructive. It is very important to see first signs of termite infestation in a tree. Let’s see them.
If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:
- All types of termites. Are they harmful to humans? Can they bite you? And what is the difference between drywood and subterranean ones?
- What does swarmers of different species look like: drywood, subterranean, formosan?
- Signs of infestation outside and in the house: in walls or furniture.
- What does termite holes look like? What is droppings and is it toxic to humans? Do termites make noises?
- Posible termite damage, how does it look like? Examples of damage in walls and wood floors.
- All about flying termites: how do they look like, swarming season and what to do if there are swarmers in your house?
- How do they do nests and mounds? How to find it in your garden or inside the house?
- Termite life cycle – from egg to larvae. And social hierarchy: workers, soldiers, queen.
Though termites play a positive role in the ecosystem, they can cause more damage than benefit. Every year they make people spend millions of dollars to preventing the appearance or in getting rid of them. Termites are quite active insects. They can live almost everywhere: in trees, in the soil, in the house (in attics, floors, ceilings, walls, furniture and so so on ).
It’s better to spend a little more money on prevention than to fight with termites that have already multiplied into thousands colonies and who are going to attack everything on their way. In case, if termites already “host” in the trees in your garden, then don’t delay it. You should immediately take measures to eliminate them. Check everything carefully, as it is much easier to prevent them.
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