A termite infestation can be devastating. The financial cost of major structural damage caused by termites can cost thousands of dollars, and that makes being able to properly identify a termite infestation important. There’s just one problem with that: termites are not an easy insect to easily identify, and they can easily infest your home totally unnoticed. Luckily “not easy” is not equal to “impossible”; here are a few tips for figuring out if you have termites in your wall.
IDENTIFYING CHARLOTTE TERMITES
Before you go hunting for termites, you first need to understand the main termite that plagues the Charlotte area, known as the subterranean termite. These termites are “subterranean” because they spend much of their time underground. So how are they getting into homes? These resourceful creatures will tunnel through wood and soil or will build something called “mud tubes”, pencil-sized tunnels made out of wood and soil. These tubes are built to access cellulose material without having to leave the safe and comfortable environment of the underground (but more on that later).
Subterranean termites have three castes, each of them with different physical characteristics and roles in their colony:
- Termite Royalty – Every termite colony has a termite king and a termite queen. This termite “royalty” is wingless and brown in color, and the all-important queen can lay thousands of eggs every year for approximately five years. However, the king and queen termites do not leave the colony, so you will rarely see them in any capacity.
- Termite Soldiers – Termite soldiers are a whitish color, with large heads. These termites are the protectors of the colony (hence their “soldier” title), and will go to war with other insects- like ants- if they pose a threat to their home.
- Termite Workers – The worker caste of termites make up the vast majority of a termite colony, and serve many roles. Most importantly, these are the termites that are causing the wood damage to homes and other structures. They are a pale-white color with round heads and straight antennae.
- Termite Swarmers (Winged Termites) – Termite swarmers are usually only active in the late winter to autumn months. They are sent out from the colony purely for reproduction and colony expansion purposes, but they are also the most likely type of termite that you will see naturally. Their most distinctive feature is their 4 wings, but they also have straight antennae and broad waists. If you see termite swarmers, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have an infestation, but it is a sign that termites are nearby and trying to expand into your area.
SIGNS OF A TERMITE INFESTATION
We touched on some of the signs of a termite infestation above, but just to review:
- Winged termite presence does not mean you have a termite infestation, but it means termites are nearby. However, if you are seeing termite swarmers inside your home, that is one of the easiest ways to know you’re dealing with a colony indoors.
- Termite mud tubes are another obviously visible sign of a termite infestation. These pencil-shaped tubes can be found on the exterior of foundation walls, on floor joists, hanging from floor systems in a crawl space, or even in the cracks between boards, beams, and sheetrock.
There are other signs of termites that require a bit more investigation:
- Wood that sounds hollow when you tap it.
- Wood that is unusually soft and easy to damage.
- Small holes in drywall.
- Buckling floors.
- Peeling paint.
- Loosened tiles.
- Termite wing piles.
If you notice some of these signs, it is essential to the safety of your home that you contact a professional termite control professional immediately. The video below does a good job illustrating the type of damage that you might be dealing with if you don’t.
PROTECTING YOUR CHARLOTTE HOME FROM TERMITE DAMAGE
If you are seeing signs of a termite infestation, or are in need of termite protection, City Wide Exterminating has options. We provide inspection and access to the two highest quality products on the market, Termidor (liquid) and Sentricon (bait). For more comprehensive, year-round termite control, check out our Essential Home Protection Plan or contact us for more information.