How To Detect Termites

Ways to tell whether or not your home is infested by termites.

Nobody likes the thought of their home being invaded... someone or something that doesn't belong making its way into the sanctuary of the house, taking or destroying what it likes. Worse yet is the thought that the invader might stay, inviting friends to come and bring havoc and discord in their wake... and all of it completely undetected until it's too late.

Despite the fear that thoughts like this can bring, many homes are under invasion at this very moment... termites are making their way into the woodwork of the frame and foundation of houses, with the inhabitants being none the wiser. Could this be happening at your house? Well, here are a few ways that you can find out.

The most obvious sign that you might have a termite problem is the termite swarm... groups of winged termites that you might see flying or crawling around near your house or on your property. The swarm can sometimes be small, consisting of only about 10 or 15 termites, but it can also grow to be quite large. If you see a termite swarm (or even a single termite), then it's a pretty safe bet that there are termites somewhere not too far away. Unlike bees and some other colony insects, termites aren't going to travel long distances in search of food... they're going to live close by, so that their queen doesn't have to worry about going hungry.

Of course, there are other less obvious signs that termites might have moved into the neighborhood... and unfortunately, the less obvious signs are also the more common ones.

One tell-tale sign that termites might be around is wood pulp or sawdust somewhere around the perimeter of your house or underneath any wooden overhangs. There likely won't be a lot of it lying around, but unless you've been doing construction recently there shouldn't be any. Even if you don't have termites, there is something that's digging into your wood... possibly wood bees or some other pest.

Another way that you might be able to detect termites is by noticing a change in sounds within the house. As the termites eat their way through the wood, it will begin to get more hollow... making it give off a hollow sound when hit or pressure is applied. Additional creaks in wood floors or noises that you never noticed before can also be indications that there are problems with your woodwork... termites, perhaps, or possibly water damage or dry rot.

A third way to tell whether or not you have a termite problem is to get aggressive and inspect your home and woodwork periodically. Look for any signs that there are holes or degradation in the wood, tap on it in various places and listen to the sound, and grab pieces and roughly shake them to see if they break free. If you're worried about termites, inspections like this should be carried out in the spring and fall of the year, and should be thorough enough to check the basement or crawl space as well as upper floors.

If you do find termites, or you're still not sure but suspect that they might be around, then call a pest control company such as Orkin or Servall. Termites are a common problem, and these companies train their employees to recognize termite damage with very little problem. They can also treat the area to help keep termites and other insects out for 6-12 months at a time, and can set you up with a regular schedule of treatment.

No one wants termites, but if you keep your eyes open then you can help to make sure that they don't stay for long.

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