Termites are a homeowner’s worst nightmare with an infestation being able to not only ruin your furniture but also having the ability to cause major structural damage to your property that can be extremely costly to repair.
Shockingly, these pests are responsible for destroying 600,000 homes in the United States every single year, costing a total of over $5 billion in repairs and termite treatment.
Unfortunately, most people do not realize that they have a termite problem until it is too late. Therefore, it is vital that you know exactly how to identify a termite so that you can arrange a proper termite treatment to eradicate the infestation as quickly as possible.
What does a termite look like?
A termite is very similar in appearance to an ant, so if possible, you want to be able to take a close look at one so that you can determine if it is, in fact, a termite and not another insect.
A termite has the following characteristics:
- 4 wings of the same size (although a termite can lose their wings after swarming)
- 2 straight antennae
- About 0.95cm in length
It is worth noting that there are three different types of termites, and each one varies slightly in appearance.
A winged termite
is dark brown or black in color and has four wings.
A worker termite
is white, almost see-through, and has no wings.
A soldier termite
is also brown, has no wings but has pincers on their heads as well as antennae.
What causes a termite infestation?
Unfortunately, you could be unwittingly already attracting termites into your home, but once you have identified possible areas in your house that termites thrive in, you will be one step closer to preventing a termite attack.
Termites, like many other pests, strive to live and breed as close as possible to a food source, which in the case of termites is wood, and especially soft or rotting wood.
In particular, termites take advantage of the below areas in your home:
- Firewood and woodpiles
- Tree stumps and dead trees
- Tree branches which reach your roof, offering a quick and easy path directly to your home
- Wood chips (mulch)
- Debris in your gutters
Homeowners in Visalia, CA, may have termites enter their homes one of two ways; by air or via the ground
A drywood termite enters by air; normally an existing colony sends out flying termite swarmers to try and find an open crevice or crack in which to enter your home, where they will then build a nest and start the process of creating a new colony.
However, subterranean termites enter your home through the ground, or more specifically, through your home’s foundations. This type of termite is the most common one in the U.S; being accountable for 95% of all termite damage.
How can I recognize the signs of a termite infestation?
The quicker you can recognize a termite colony, the more likely you are to be able to minimize the damage to your home. Luckily, termites can leave several signs that they are present in your home, this includes:
- Wings. Termites shed their wings once they have mated, so you may be able to see lots of little piles of wings in certain areas in your home.
- Droppings. Termite droppings are known as ‘frass’ and are small and brown in color.
- Mud tubes. Termites build mud tubes to provide moisture while they travel from their colony to their food source.
- Wood damage. Termites usually eat wood from the inside out, so an easy way to check if your wood is infested is by lightly tapping the area; if it sounds hollow, then you could have termites.
- Bubbling paint. If you can see bubbling or uneven paintwork, either on your furniture or on your walls, you could have a termite problem (although it could be just water damage).
How do I treat a termite infestation?
As with all pest problems, you need to make sure that you have an effective termite treatment plan in place to ensure that all traces of termites have been removed from your home so that no further damage can be done.
It is not advisable to try and treat a termite infestation yourself as by the time most homeowners realize they have a problem, the termites have already spread rapidly, and only a professional pest control expert will be able to eradicate the problem fully.
Termite treatment should be tailored to each home’s specific needs and could include a range of different options, including a liquid treatment, fumigation, or bait systems.
Subterranean termites, the most common variety in the U.S, used to be treated with liquid termiticides, but in more recent years, experts have started to favor using termite baits as these can successfully get rid of entire termite colonies without the need for any nasty chemicals.
However, drywood termites are usually dealt with using a structural fumigation process.
How can I prevent a termite problem from happening?
Of course, prevention is better than cure when it comes to termites, and luckily, there are several steps that you can take to stop termites from being able to get into your house in the first place.
- Seal up any holes or cracks on the outside of your home
- Be vigilant with all exterior wood – check for early signs of damage
- Keep any mulch away as far away from the foundations of your home as possible
- Make sure that you have a good drainage system as termites thrive in moisture
- Keep your attic and basement free from moisture and well-aired
You should also speak to a professional pest control expert about a preventative treatment
plan as a re-infestation of termites can prove extremely costly. They can talk you through a personalized plan that is right for your family and will guarantee your home is pest-free.
Termites are one of nature’s most troublesome pests, so if you even suspect that you may have them in your home, contact a termite control company as soon as possible.