How to Determine if Your Home has Termites

Man showing live termite damage in a homeIt’s been a long winter in Upstate NY and Vermont, but the spring thaw should be here any day. As termite exterminators in Albany, Saratoga and as far north as Plattsburgh NY, this is the start of our busy season. Many people assume this is because termites hibernate in winter, but they’re not actually dormant, they just move deeper underneath your home during the colder months to find the warmth they need to survive. However, when the ground thaws, they emerge, and can potentially enter your home through cracks in the foundation.

So, How Can You Tell if Your House has Termites?

One of the reason termites are so destructive is because they can cause a lot of damage before you even realize you have a problem. Signs of a termite infestation are subtle, which is why even do-it-yourself pest control websites highly recommend that you have your house inspected by trained termite professionals. Here at Nature’s Way Pest Control, we recommend homeowners monitor their homes for the following signs of termite activity.

Termite Swarms

A termite swarm occurs when subterranean termites fly from their underground nest in order to form a new colony. These winged termites are often mistaken for flying ants, so if you’re unsure, try capturing a few in a glass jar and bringing them to a termite professional to make the positive identification.

Swarms usually occur in the early spring, between March and May in the Lake George-Albany region. However, homeowners rarely see an actual swarm because they happen so quickly. You are more likely to find the discarded wings near closed windows, doors, in basements and near other home entry points, since termites intentionally lose their wings after the flight.

Termite Tunnels

Termites need a safe environment to move from their nest to their wood food source, so they create mud tubes, or tunnels by which they travel. The tunnels are made of dirt and cellulose, and are about the width of a pencil. You may notice these brown, straw-like trails wherever the ground meets your house, climbing both the exterior and interior walls of your foundation.

Old mud tubes are dry and will crumble easily, but if you break open a small section in the center of a mud tube and termites emerge, you have an active infestation. Even if termites are not present, you’ll want to monitor the area for a few days to see if the broken section is repaired or if a new tube is built to replace the one that you disturbed.

Damaged Wood

Damaged wood is not easy to spot, since termites do their dirty work behind your walls and floors. They chew their way through the wood in your home, creating long grooves that weaken the wood and result in structural damage over time.

Unfortunately, visible signs of weak wood are usually an indication that the damage is significant. Crumbling or soft baseboard trim, buckling wood or laminate floorboards, loose tiles, stuck windows and doors, or drooping drywall are all indications that you have termites in your home.

To determine if otherwise healthy-looking wood has been damaged, you can try tapping it with a screwdriver. The hollowed-out wood will usually sound flat or dull compared to healthy wood.

When to Call a Termite Exterminator

Termite extermination and prevention are not a do-it-yourself project. Even if you do not think your home has termites now, you should have a termite prevention plan in place with a company that provides annual termite inspections.

If you suspect you have a termite infestation, or you just want peace of mind, Nature’s Way Pest Control performs free termite inspections from Albany to Plattsburgh NY, and in western Vermont. Our termite monitors are designed to safely control and destroy termites on your property, and we use environmentally-friendly pest control to get rid of termites that have invaded your home. In addition, we treat your home with Bora-Care, an ecologically-safe treatment for your wood that will prevent the pests from returning.

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