Throughout Austin, Texas and surrounding areas, locals will likely have a dealing (or two or more) with subterranean or drywood termites as they are the most common termite species found in our area. Despite dropping temperatures, most types of termites are active all year long, but will simply nest deeper for warmth. It often takes several years of an infestation before homeowners or businesses recognize the damage they do. If you can identify the early signs of termites, however, you can save a lot of cost in repairs. Today, we at A-Tex Pest Management would like to share the basics of termites to help people detect termites before excessive damage is done to their property.
Where Do Termites Live?
Termites, living in large colonies, are tiny social insects that feast on organic matter, especially enjoying wood and paper. Typically, most termites average approximately 3/8 of an inch in length. There are some termites, such as the subterranean termites, that do not live in the wood, but in the nearby moist soil. Generally, these termites live in the damp soil around structures such as air conditioning condensation, leaky pipes, and gutter outlets for instance.
Termite Colony Castes
The castes in most termite colonies include soldiers, workers, the king and queen, and swarmers. The termites are the reproductive termites that leave the colony to start anew. The workers take care of the nest and members, including the younglings and building the nest and foraging for food. The queens and kings are the reproducers of the colony.
Signs of Termites
Termite Swarmers – Termites manifest many signs of their presence. The swarmers shed their wings once they found a place to begin the colony, but the swarmers will be seen around the structures, usually in late spring or early summer are noticed. They do not typically fly too far from their colony and seeing a swarm suggests that an active infestation. Additionally, during the evening hours, swarmers will be attracted to lights.
Termite Mud Tubes – To travel from their food supply to their nest, many types of termites will construct hollow mud shelter tubes.
Sawdust & Termite Fecal Pellets – Tiny holes, altered texture, and piles of sawdust can indicate damaged wood from termites. Additionally, tiny wood-like pellets, or the termite’s feces may be present as well.
Termite Wood Damage – Because termites burrow in the wood deeply, the damaged wood can be difficult to spot, but the wood will be hollowed out that you can distinctly hear when doing the tapping test. In severe cases, the damaged wood can be shown on the exterior. Discovering paper-covered insulation that has been tunneled through can also be a sign of termites. Though the paper has no nutritional value for termites, they seem to enjoy it, where it eventually leads to the wooden piers or other bounties.
Where are Termite Infestations Found?
Businesses and homes are not the only structure susceptible to termites, but they can be found in the following examples:
– Furniture made from wood.
– Landscapes; wood chip mulch, shrubs and trees. Termites are attracted to weak trees and plants but will infest healthy vegetation as well.
– Firewood, or other piles of building materials.
– Wood fencing, mostly around the ground level.
– Patios, playscapes, or decks.
– Roofing, especially beneath shingles.