March 5, 2015
Subterranean termites need moisture to survive, which means they rely on their soil habitat for
the moisture they need. When termites travel above ground, they have to take the soil with them
to protect themselves from drying out. Subterranean termites build mud tubes above ground so
termite workers can travel inside the protected structure when foraging between the infested wood
and theirnest. The tubes may be easy to spot when they extend over concrete foundations and
other exposed surfaces. However, the tubes are much less visible when they run along cracks
in the foundation or behind siding and baseboards.
Subterranean termites only like to eat soft spring wood fiber, which means they will eat along
the wood grain, rather than across it. Subterranean termite damage is very easy to identify
because the damaged wood will only have the grain left behind. Since subterranean termites carry
soil with them, the spaces between the wood grains are typically packed with mud. Both drywood
and subterranean galleries (small rooms inside the wood connected by tunnels) can be detected
by tapping a piece of wood every few inches with the handle of a screwdriver. The damaged
wood will sound hollow, and the screwdriver may even break through the wood into the galleries.
Frass (Termite Droppings)
Around the house, it can look like dirt or coffee grounds. Unfortunately, termite droppings could
be what is showering your kitchen or home floor.
As drywood termites eat their way through wood, they produce frass or wood-colored droppings.
For housekeeping purposes, sometimes the termites will chew small holes in the wood to push
these droppings out. Termite fecal pellets can be found in little piles beneath the infested wood.
Winged termite swarmers may emerge inside or outside your home. A swarm is often the first
visible sign of a termite infestation. Because swarmers are attracted to light, they are often found
around lighting fixtures in a home and in windowsills. Drywood termites produce relatively small swarms (10-100 swarmers), so if the homeowner is not home during the drywood swarm, the termites
might go unnoticed. However, subterranean termites could produce hundreds to thousands of swarmers.
An indoor swarm of such massive numbers is hard to miss.
Swarmers break off their wings shortly after they land on the ground. While the termites may
quickly disappear, the groups of identical, disembodied wings discarded on windowsills, floors
or in spider webs are sure signs of an indoor termite swarm.
Many people have heard that termites build large mounds out of soil to house entire colonies
of termites. While this practice is true for some termite species found in Australia or Africa,
the United States has no mound-building species of termites. A mound of earth found in the
yard of a home in the U.S. is most likely due to some sort of wildlife, not termite, activity.
Is it a Brown Recluse? What Do I do?
February 22, 2015
A Tricky Termite Look-a-Like
Signs of Termite Infestation
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