Termite detection is the first step in determining whether your property has been invaded by these wood destroying insects. However, detection may not be as easy as it sounds, especially with reclusive termite species. Termites are secretive, living primarily underground, in woodpiles or tree trunks or inside the structural components of your home. Unless you know how to recognize the signs of these pests, you may not realize they’ve infested your house until you see signs of termite damage in wooden beams, support posts or railings.
Professional termite detection is the only way to guarantee that you truly have a termite problem. Licensed pest control experts have been trained in visual detection and may use more advanced technology to detect termites, such as infrared equipment. To the untrained eye, termite detection can be difficult. To a termite inspector, detection is facilitated by years of training, experience and access to the latest termite detection technology.
Pest Detection for Homeowners
Although detection and identification of wood devouring insects can be challenging, it isn’t impossible. By learning to recognize the evidence that these insects leave, a homeowner can determine whether the pests may be present on the property. Photos of these insects and their droppings can hone your termite detection skills. Explore online galleries and entomology texts for pictures of wood devouring pests.
One of the most common signs of subterranean termite infestation is the presence of mud tubes running along the outside of your house or your foundations. Subterranean species construct their colonies under the soil surrounding your house, then gradually make their way into the home by building tunnels of mud. These tunnels protect worker members of the colony from light and heat as they travel back and forth from the colony to your house.
Once the workers have consumed wood, paper or cardboard inside your house, they return to the soil to feed the larval members of the colony. Although you may not know that these underground colonies are present, you can predict which areas of your yard may be affected by taking note of the drainage in the area. Colonies tend to occur in damp areas where water gathers, like the space surrounding a leaking faucet. The damp soil under a wooden porch is another place where a colony might form.
Outside the home, you may find piles of a material that looks like sawdust around the house’s perimeter. These piles may also appear inside the house. Dry wood species, which may spend their whole lives inside the wood in your home, create these piles when they push their fecal pellets through the wood. Inspect the baseboards or exterior walls for tiny openings called “kick out holes” where the dry wood species have eliminated their droppings.
Detection of swarming termites around the house or scattered wings on the floors is a definitive sign of an infestation. However, many homeowners mistake flying ants for swarming termites. Ants have clearly defined waists and hinged antennae, while termite species have solid, continuous torsos and straight antennae. Swarmers are the reproductive members of a colony who leave to form new colonies in the spring. In the process, they often leave discarded wings around the outside of the house or inside the home itself.
Professional Termite Detection Methods
Professional termite detection takes a systematic approach to investigating a property for infestation. The property around the house, the foundation, crawl space and basement are inspected for signs of infestation or damage. Licensed professionals can use the evidence they find to determine which species of insect has invaded the house. Subterranean species may leave hollowed areas along the grain of a wooden structure, while dry wood insects may hollow out a beam or board from the inside.
By tapping a wooden structure, an inspector can tell whether it’s been damaged by wood devouring pests. A beam or post that’s been excavated will make a hollow sound. In advanced cases of damage, where the structural integrity of the house has been severely compromised, ceilings and walls may actually sag.
Trained professionals know how to examine the interior of a building for signs of pests. Although high tech methods of termite detection are available, most qualified inspectors can detect signs of these pests by visually inspecting the right areas of a structure. The foundation, crawl space and basement are common sources of entry for subterranean species, while dry wood insects may spend their entire lives inside the wooden fixtures of a building.
Termite detection takes training and practice. Once you’ve learned the signs of an infestation, you’ll be better equipped to recognize evidence of a recurrence in the future. If you know what signs to look for, you may be able to prevent severe damages to your home by catching an infestation early.