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5 Ways to Spot Termites: DIY Termite Inspection

5 Ways to Spot Termites: DIY Termite Inspection

Even though termites can live for years in a home without detection, you can stop an infestation before it starts by looking for these five signs they leave behind. If you find these signs, you could save thousands of dollars in repairs by calling a pest control professional for integrated treatments — before the problem gets out of control.

1. Termite Excrement — “Frass”

Termite droppings, which are known as frass, are typically the first and most common sign of a termite infestation, depending on the type of termite. Since termites eat wood, their frass appears similar to piles of tiny wooden pellets or sawdust.

Termites are almost like little housekeepers — they like to keep their tunnels free of debris.

If you find any frass, take a picture of it to show the professionals, clean it up, and watch the spot for a few days. If the pile returns within a week, you most likely have found an active frass dumping ground.

2. Mud Tunnels

Dependent on moisture from the soil, subterranean termites make mud tubes or mud tunnels with a mixture of dirt and their saliva. They use these tunnels to travel from their underground colonies to a wood source.

Mud tubes can be found creeping up the vinyl siding of your house or the slick side of your concrete foundation, a slippery metal post, or even a telephone pole.

Professional Tip:

You can find out if you have an active termite nest by breaking open a mud tube and watching it for about a week. Termites will either repair it right away or fix it over the next several days. If they haven’t fixed the damage by then, and if the inside of the tubes is dry, chances are good that the colony either moved on or simply doesn’t use that mud tunnel anymore.

3. Swarmers

Usually during the spring, but possibly throughout the year, mature termite colonies send out reproductive termites, called swarmers. Swarmers fly from the colony, mate, lose their wings and start a new colony, a process called swarming.

Winged termites might be drawn to a light source around dusk or early morning, but you’re more likely to see their discarded wings after their flight. If you find wings or flying termites inside, chances are good that you have an infestation and you’ll need to call a professional pest control company for help.

The good news is that if you find signs of swarming outside, you may or may not have an infestation in your house. A professional termite inspection will be able to tell you for sure.

What’s The Difference Between Ant and Termite Swarmers?

Ants and termites send out swarmers every year, and knowing the difference could save you time and money. A termite professional should be able to tell the difference if you’ve found something but don’t know what you have.

1. Wings

  • Ants have four wings of different lengths
  • Termites have four wings of equal length

2. Antennae

  • Ant antennae have an elbow bend in the middle
  • Termites have straight antennae that look like a string of beads

3. The “Waist”

  • Ant bodies have a thin “waist” where the abdomen connects to the thorax
  • Termites have a thick waist

4. Wood Damage

Termites will eat anything from wall studs to books, wallpaper, furniture, and even an old wooden chess set. It can be tough to identify, but wood damage with signs of termite excavation is a sure indicator of termites.

Since termites eat wood from the inside out, you’ll have to check under the surface. Use a screwdriver or wooden dowl to tap around window and door frames, outdoor wooden structures like a deck or porch, and support beams, listening for a hollow sound while you tap. Feel the wood with your hand to check for weaknesses as well.

If termites have started eating into the sheetrock, the surface will ripple, bubble, or wave. You can check for unevenness or bubbling by setting a flashlight and splashing the beam across it.

Unlike other wood-destroying insects, the insides of termite tunnels are smooth and usually follow the grain.

5. Tapping and Scratching

While excavating their way through the wood, termites sometimes make a high-pitched sound that’s easiest to hear at night when everything is quiet.

Sometimes, only children can hear the high frequency, so if your child consistently reports sounds in the walls at night, it might be time to take a closer look.

Keep in mind that there are many other wood-destroying insects that make noise. Mice and rats make scratching sounds as well. If you hear something in your walls and you’re unsure what it is, call the professionals right away.

What To Do Next

Despite being notoriously difficult to get rid of, some homeowners will try to take on a termite infestation on their own using termite bait systems, diatomaceous earth, and boric acid, among others. However, many homeowners find they end up calling a professional anyway and waste precious time and money.

When it comes to choosing a pest control company, you’ll want one you can depend on, with the right experience and tools to get rid of an infestation and keep it away.

Fox Pest Control can be that company for you. When you call, you aren’t just hiring a pest control company. You’re joining a family that cares about you and wants to restore your peace of mind.

Call today to discuss the termite treatment plan that works best for you and your home.

We get the job done right the first time, so when you think pest control, think Fox Pest Control. Because No Bugs is Simply Better.

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