Would you know a termite infestation if you saw one? We certainly hope so. Termites are destructive insects that can eat away at your home and cost you thousands of dollars in repairs. Some damage caused by termites is irreparable. Today, we're offering up a step-by-step guide for identifying termite problems. These tips will help you detect the three types of termites we have in our area: Subterranean termites, drywood termites, and dampwood termites.

termite colony
termite colony

Yard Inspection

When subterranean termites come into your yard, they won't let you know. These insects stay in the ground, or inside the wood they're feeding on. You have to do a little work to find them. Here are some suggestions:

  • Turn boards over and look for termite worker activity. When you're done, consider removing the boards or storing them away. Wood-to-soil contact is a strong termite attractant.

  • Chop into a stump, dead bush, or a tree that has heart rot. Just underneath the surface, you may find worker termites, soldiers, or tunnels.

  • Examine the bottoms of wooden fences, decks, and other structures. At the point where the wood comes in contact with the soil, you could find activity. You might need to dig a little soil out to catch them.

  • Inspect any stacked cardboard. Termites are attracted to cardboard, clothing, and other objects that contain cellulose. If these are stored in a damp shed or garage, they can be targeted by termites.

Exterior Inspection

If termites attack your home, there are a few ways they'll do it. How termites attack your home will depend on the type of termite. Here are a few ways to detect a termite attack.

  • Look for shelter tubes. Subterranean termites make these tubes in dark, moist, hidden locations. They will look like streams of mud running up surfaces.

  • Look for damage. Drywood and dampwood termites live inside wood, rather than in the ground. If they are living in the wood of your home, you may see damage. The wood may appear splintered or indented. Examine the wood of your home for any changes.

  • Dampwood termites infest moist wood. If you have wood that is being soaked by water, and rot has begun, chip a piece off to see if you can detect worker termites or tunnels within.

  • When termite colonies mature, winged swarmers are produced. If you see tiny insects with long white wings that are about ⅜ of an inch long, it is a warning sign of a current and mature termite infestation.

  • If you find tiny white wings littered about on exterior window sills or surfaces, they are the shed wings of termite swarmers. Male and female alates shed their wings after mating.

Interior Inspection

When termites feed on the wood of your home, you may see warning signs inside your home. What signs you see depends on the type of termites that are infesting your home.

  • If you have a drywood termite infestation, you may see hard fecal pellets on your interior window sills or on floors below crevices and gaps. Subterranean and dampwood termites keep their feces inside their tunnels.

  • If you have a subterranean termite infestation, you may find shelter tubes on interior walls.

  • You may find swarmers inside your home if alates emerge inside.

  • A swarm can happen inside your home and you can miss it. Swarms don't last for more than about 30 minutes. If you return home and find tiny white wings on your window sills, it is important that you recognize this warning sign. Why do you find wings on window sills? Because swarmers are attracted to light. And, while they were in the sunlight, they mated and shed their wings. Now, they're hiding in the wood of your home and your infestation has gotten a whole lot worse.

Termite Treatments 

There are two ways to protect your property from termites. One is proactive and one is reactive. If termites have not yet infested your home, you can invest in ongoing termite protection to prevent damage. If they've gotten in, an application of termite control products can eliminate the termites that have infested your home, and eliminate the colony that is attacking. The application of termite treatments is best done by a certified termite control professional. If you need assistance with termite control in the Bay Area, reach out to Bay Pest. We'll make sure your property is protected.


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