Termites are cryptic insects and are difficult to detect. However, they do present themselves via swarms, mud tunnels, pin holes, or soft wood. These are a clear indication of termite infestation. Documentation is the most important step homeowners can take to protect themselves in dealing with termite infestation. Videotape, photograph and keep accurate records. You may want to save the swarmers in a zip-lock bag. When you open the walls, have your pest-control company present so they can see live termites. The companies will not pay for repairs unless they see LIVE termites.
Swarming of winged adult termites is typically one of the first signs of termite infestation. This usually begins in early spring and occurs when a termite colony reaches a certain size. Swarmers are poor fliers and they only use their wings to swarm. A homeowner may encounter a small swarm of winged termites running on the floor or they may encounter piles of broken wings especially around windowsills and doorways, usually near areas of sunlight. In most instances of swarming, the colonies only swarm one to two times. If you there is a swarm inside your home, the termites are not coming from your neighbor’s yard! A swarm is usually indicative of termite damage.
Another obvious sign of infestation is mud tunneling. The ‘worker’ termites build mud shelter tubes from bits of soil and excretion. These tubes provide a passageway from the termite colony to the food source, the wooden structure of most homes. These shelter tubes are usually seen on the outside of foundations or interior wood molding. Some may be as small as a pen to several inches wide. If termites are active in the tubes, you will see them when you scrap away the dirt.
Look for unexplained small holes in your interior walls.
Use a rubber mallet to determine if interior wood molding is soft or rotted. Blistering paint may also be a sign.
Swarms are not indicative of infestation or damage.
Some termite company representatives have been known to tell their customers the following:
· “Reproductive Termites (Swarmers) continue to swarm after the worker termites are killed” – this is wrong! (Termites will only swarm for 30-45 days after a treatment.)
· “Swarmers are from the neighbor’s yard” – if the termite swarmers are from inside your house this is most likely wrong.
· “Swarmers are mutating termites”
If you have a swarm inside your home, most likely there is termite damage near the origination of the swarm. Homeowners should carefully examine these areas by cutting drywall or probing with an ice pick. Termite companies may discourage you from doing this because in some instances the damage behind the wall could be massive.