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Termite Signs – Advice From the Pros

By Chris Williams on November 28, 2011.

Many people worry overmuch about termites and imagine that their house is going to fall down around them. While termites are a serious problem and they do require control, they won’t destroy your home overnight. There are some warning signs of termite infestation  if you know what to look for.

Termites often infest damp wood near sinks, toilets, leaky pipes, or wood that is wet from lawn sprinklers or downspouts. Termites like a wood moisture higher than 15% (that’s the moisture inside the wood, not the relative humidity), but they can survive in drier wood if they have a supplemental source of moisture such as a plumbing leak.

termitesWood or paper products that are in contact with the soil are especially susceptible to termite attack. Porches, steps, terraces, fences, logs, tree stumps, utility poles, grade stakes, formboards, and planter boxes are all common infestation sites, as is firewood or wood debris stored on the ground next to the foundation. Cardboard boxes or papers stacked on the ground in crawl spaces are often attacked.

These are some of the signs that you may have termites:

(1) Blistered areas on wood – Flooring, trim, or framing wood may have dark, blistered areas on the surface. Painted wood or drywall over infested wood may look “bubbly.” Actual damage is usually not noticeable on the surface of the wood but it may have a hollow sound when tapped.

(2) Galleries in wood – If you break open infested wood, it will have a honeycombed or layered appearance. Termite galleries usually run parallel with the grain and will contain a mixture of solid and digested wood, and soil. There will be no powdery frass, fecal pellets, or sawdust piles beneath on the wood (unless other wood damaging pests are also present).

(3) Mud tubes – Termites build mud tubes to travel from the soil where they live to the wood they are infesting. Look for tubes along foundation walls, piers, chimneys, plumbing, and in cracks between structural wood members. Tubes are about 1/4 to 1/2 inch wide and may be short or long and branched.

(4) Live or dead termites – If you break open infested wood or an active mud tube, you will likely find termite workers and soldiers inside. You may see swarmers (alates), flying especially at midday on warm, early spring days. Live or dead swarmers may be found around windows, in light fixtures, or in spider webs. You may find only their distinctive shed wings.

Often the only way to know for sure whether you have termites (and how extensive the damage is) is to have a professional inspection by a licensed pest control company. Our specially trained termite technicians will inspect your property inside and out. They will find any termite signs, and determine whether they’re old or new. We can set up a termite treatment program that fits your needs and your pocketbook. Give Colonial a call today if you’re worried about termites.

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