Termites are a dangerous but often subtle pest, building their homes inside wood and generally out of sight. This often means that by the time any damage is spotted, it has become very serious and potentially expensive to fix. You may not find termites unless you're actively looking for them, but as a homeowner it's a good idea to check your property on a consistent basis, especially in the Spring when new colonies are most often formed.
1. Tubes of Mud
As you walk along the outside of your home you may notice tunnels of mud that go up your wall from the ground. These aren't random collections of dirt clods; these tunnels are often made by subterranean termites to connect sources of water and food (in this case, wood). It is possible that the tunnels may be old and no longer used, but they are still definitely worth checking out.
2. Insect Wings
Termites start new colonies when young, winged termites leave already established colonies. This often happens during the spring after rains. Look around your house and in dirt areas for any signs of wings; these are often left behind when a termite mates and burrows.
The wings themselves are straight and narrow, and there will probably be a great number of them in the same area since colonies send out hundreds of young termites at a time. If you see any near your home, the termites may have chosen your home as a place to try to start a new colony. On the plus side, this often means you have time to stop them before they cause too much damage.
3. Hollow, Beveled Wood
If you think you may already have termites, it's best to start looking for them inside your house. You can often find hints of their presence in garages, baseboards, attics and basements. Termites tunnel from the inside, so it isn't always obvious where they've been.
Knock on students and baseboards to see if they sound hollow, and look for any beveled areas where parts of the wood sink in slightly. Press in on these bevels with a fingernail; if they collapse easily and expose holes underneath, these are likely termite tunnels.
4. Sawdust Piles
When termites bore into your wood, the sawdust needs to go somewhere. Search for small piles of sawdust near the bases of beams or other areas with exposed wood. If you see dirt where dirt shouldn't be, investigate the wood around that area.
5. Termite Swarms
During Spring you may see a sudden abundance of what appear to be flying ants. These insects might actually be termites, and are physically distinctive from ants in that termites have straight antennae and two pairs of equally sized wings. With ants, the back pair of wings is generally smaller than the front pair. If you see a sudden burst in numbers,you may be looking at termites trying to start a new colony. You can also check spiderwebs around your home and see what has been caught recently, which can tell you what sort of bugs are in your area at that time.
If it appears that you do have termites in your home or area, it's time to call a specialist for termite removal or prevention. For more help, contact a company like Snowball Pest Control Services with your questions and concerns.