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How to Identify Termite Infestation in Buildings?

Termite Infestation

Termite Infestation

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When termites form a colony and build their nests or mounds in a building, the structure becomes termite-infested. Termite infestation can affect a building's structural stability, causing thousands of dollars in damage. 

Before choosing the termite treatment techniques for the affected building, it is necessary to identify the type of termite infestation.

Identification of the type of termite infestation is a challenging process. But specific knowledge on the kind of termite infestations in buildings can help differentiate the type and choose the suitable termite treatment method.

Here are some signs that show if a building is termite-infested.

1. Mud Tubes

Mud tubes are tubes of mud made by subterranean termites connecting the soil and the nearby wood they consume. These mud tubes are made out of wood and soil and are as wide as a pencil.

Figure-1: Mud Tubes in Building Foundations

Spotting mud tubes on the wood surface shows the presence of termites. But their absence may not mean the home is termite-free as it takes few days to make mud tubes.

Dry wood termites do not make mud tubes but they are seen in building areas like holes, fecal pellets, dark areas of wood, or finely ground wood dust.

2. Hollow Wood

If we hear a soft or hollow sound while striking or knocking on wood, there is definitely a termite infestation in the building. A hollow wood allows a screwdriver to pass through it easily.

Figure-2: Hollow Wood in Door Frame Due to Termites

3. Frass

Frass are termite droppings seen as small, granular, oval pellets on the door frames, windowsills, and baseboards.

Figure-3: Frass Formation in Termite-Infested Buildings

4. Head Banging

Head banging is a strange clicking sound coming from within the walls. These are sounds heard when the soldier termites detect a threat and bang their heads against the wood and shake their bodies.

5. Swarm Evidence

These are piles of shed wings of the subterranean termites when they plan to create a new colony after swarming. Light attracts flying termites during the night, and they swarm near windows and doors. Swarming generally occurs in the spring months, i.e., March, April, May, and June.

Figure-4: Shed Wings of Termites After Swarming

6. Peeling Paint

A termite attack on drywalls allows the moisture to penetrate through the space between the surface and the paint. This causes the peeling or bubbling of wall paints. Other reasons too may cause paint bubbling, but termite infestation is possible when other signs of termite presence are observed.

Figure-5: Termites Causing Peeling of Wall Paints

7. Live Termites

The presence of live termites demands immediate treatment and preventative measures. First, always distinguish termites from flying ants. The termites’ rear wings are even in size, their abdomens are thick, and their antennae are straight. On the other hand, flying ants have wings of different sizes, are thinner through the middle, and have bent antennae.

If you suspect a termite infestation, contact a professional to confirm the same and ask for advice. Some building owners perform the treatment process themselves with the help of a do-it-yourself kit, which is not found to be very effective.

When seeking external help, always contact a licensed pest management professional. 

FAQs

How to know if a building is termite-infested?

A building space that has termite infestation shows the following indications:
1. Formation of mud tubes
2. Presence of frass
3. Hollow wood
4. Swarm evidence
5. Live termites

Can termite infestation cause the peeling of wall paints?

A termite attack on drywalls allows moisture to penetrate through the space between the surface and the paint. This causes the peeling or bubbling of wall paints. Other reasons too may cause paint bubbling, but termite infestation is possible when other signs of termite presence are observed.

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