Termites are social insects, similar in morphology and physiology to representatives of cockroaches. They are the oldest and most primitive social insects. People also call them “white ants”.
Termites live in nests communities, wood or soil. A characteristic feature of some species is the construction of termite nests.
One nest may include from several hundred to several million of individuals. Termites’ lifestyle is secretive.
Termites are herbivorous insects. Their basic foods are paper, wood, wooden furniture, different wooden constructions both inside and outside. And in this article we will be speaking about: “How to tell if you have termites?”.
The differences of the castes are evident. It’s not only about the appearance, but also about the functions they perform.
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.
About 10% of the species of termites are pests as they do harm to people. 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. Now let’s speak about how do I know if I have termites or not and is it possible to find them by yourself?
Is it possible to detect termites on your own?
Termites can seriously damage your home and furniture, plantings, etc. In order to avoid this, it is very important to learn how to determine the appearance of these insects in time to take all the necessary measures.
Here you can learn more information about early signs of termite infestation.
This can be done independently. But if you doubt your abilities, you can ask the professionals for help.
Where termites like to settle down and where to look for traces of their life?
How do you know if you have termites? Find the places of their settlement.
Termites settle in places where they can gain permanent access to a water source, and more often they have to go much deeper into the ground, for this make them invisible.
In the house they can settle:
- in floors;
- in ceilings;
- in the walls;
- in the window frames and partitions;
- in furniture;
- in the attic;
- in the basement;
- in the window sills;
- in the steps;
- in the porch;
- in the cracks and foundation of the house;
- in old stumps;
- in poles and other wooden structures.
In the street they can live in trees, stacks and so on.
What evidence can speak about the presence of termites inside and outside?
Though termites have a high stealth and ability to hide their damage until discovering it, there are a few distinctive signs that will help to detect their traces in time, to get rid of them and reduce the damage they could cause.
So, what are signs of termites? Swarmers/their wings. 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. They occur especially near sources of light outside.
Swarmers typically leave their nests to start new colony. Thus occurs when it starts to get warmer outside (in the spring, summer and in the early fall). But if you found their nest, it does not mean that the termites have infested your house. It’s better to check the house for infestation.
Traces of termites’ activity (decals). Can be detected in the vicinity of their nests. They look like small granule of the wood color or darker.
Mud tubes. Look like small tunnels that connect the nest of termites with a food source, i.e. wood. But if you break the mud tube and you do not find termites, it does not mean that they are no longer there. Perhaps they moved to another nearby place.
If after some time that mud tube that you broke is rebuilt again, this means infestation. Usually a mud tube can be discovered on the porch, on a wall, on a tree trunk.
Traces of destruction in the house are the following: small holes in the wood, tunnels, perhaps small wood sawdust. Everything that says about the invasion of termites
What does termite infestation look like? See evidence of termite infestation on the pictures below:
Is it possible to hear termites through the wall?
To hear termites through a wall is almost impossible, as at that moment they can simply be in another part of the wooden structure.
It’s very important to check carefully all the wooden structures, especially walls, ceiling, floor. They can be destroyed.
Infection of old trees in the garden
The trees in the garden may also be infested with termites. Symptoms of infection are exactly the same as were listed above (swarmers, dirt, fecals, tunnels, etc.) More info about the signs of termites in wood.
What are the means that can help you to simplify the search for termites/their tracks?
- Organize a cardboard trap. Take a couple sheets of cardboard, wet them with water and folded one upon the other in the area of a possible habitat of termites. As the food of termites is cellulose (cardboard), for them it will be a perfect bait.
- A flashlight and a knife or screwdriver will help you to search for termites.
Carefully inspect those locations that can possibly be infected. In the street it can be those constructions that are on the ground level. Carefully check out and shine in the cracks. Swarmers can live there.
Examine the trees, cut the bark with a knife and look closely if there are any tunnels. Also inspect the basement. There you can find a mud tube.
- If you suspect that your furniture has termites, take it out in the sun. Termites do not like heat and sunlight. This technique is better to be used in conjunction with the cardboard trap to lure them out of the furniture.
Don’t forget about professionals. They will help you to detect the traces of infection quickly.
What to do if you have discovered the termites signs?
First thing, don’t panic. It’s possible to can get rid of almost everything. The most important thing is to do it in time. Now there are many proven ways that help to get rid of termites. Then determine what kind of termites you have found.
There are two main types of termites that infest houses: subterranean termites and drywood termites. The first ones live in the soil and wooden structures of the houses, while the latter — only in the wood.
In addition to wooden structures, subterranean termites can live in the stacks and piles of dung near the house.
- Try applying beneficial nematodes. The nematode is a type of small worms that are natural parasites to garden pests, including termites. The nematode required host bodies for their development, for example, the larvae of termites, killing the termite within 48 hours. Nematodes use the body of the termite as a place for reproduction.
- Place the affected wooden objects into the sunlight. If termites appeared not in the house, but for example in some furniture or other object that can be taken from the house — place it in sunlight. Dark is paradise for termites, and the sun’s heat and light will kill them. Move your furniture into the open on a sunny day, preferably for 2-3 days.
- Freeze the termites. If you live in a rainy region and putting furniture in the sun didn’t work, then there is an alternative version of the destruction of termites. Place your furniture (you may have to disassemble it) in a large freezer for 2-3 days. Although this method is difficult to apply to large pieces of furniture, it guarantees the death of the termites.
- Use boric acid. Boric acid is one of the most frequently used and effective means for the control of termites. In fact, it is a basis component of many insecticides sold in stores. Boric acid kills the nervous system of the termites, dehydrating it. The best way to kill termites with boric acid is a bait.
Apply boric acid or its solution onto the wood (or another cellulose containing material).
Place the bait with boric acid in the garden near the house or near the heart of the destruction with termites.
Regularly check and add the boric acid in the bait. Termites must fall down near the bait.
- Use the microwave process. As heat kills termites, you can warm up your house to high temperatures, destroying insects. Be careful, such processing should be performed by a professional because the equipment for it is not widely available.
If these methods did not help, contact the professionals. They will quickly and efficiently help you to get rid of the termites.
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 all about the queen.
In this video, Tony DeJesus, expert in structural pest management, talks about how to recognize termite infestation and how to deal with it:
So, even though termites play an important role in nature, they can only do harm to people. In order not to suffer from their invasion, you’d better to organize the prevention of your house and garden from the termites.
Check everything carefully, as it is much easier to prevent them than to get rid of them. Hope this article helped you to find the answer on the question: “How to check for termite infestation?”. Good luck!