Come out, Come out, Wherever You are!

As kids, we used to play hide and seek and when you wanted everyone who was still hiding to come out, you yelled, “Come out, come out, wherever you are”!  How do you know if your home has been invaded by termites?  There are no special words that you can yell that will make them show themselves, so you must continue the game of hide and seek.

The first step is to have a thorough inspection of your home and property for both prevention and detection of termites.  The inspection will let you know if there are termites dwelling within your home, making their way into your home, and what kind of damage has happened and the extent of the damage.  It will also allow the inspector to know what treatment and repair will be necessary to eliminate the pests.  You may be able to see some of the damage, but a complete inspection by a trained professional who knows about structural elements and the interaction of termites is the best way to fight these insects that will literally eat you out of house and home.

The inspector should have the following equipment for the inspection: 

  • Flashlight
  • Ice pick or screwdriver (for tapping or probing)
  • Ladder
  • Protective clothing (hat, coveralls, knee pads)
  • Floor plans to record findings accurately
  • Moisture meter

The inspector will be looking for specific damage and evidence of infestation.

  • On window sills or near an indoor light he will look for swarmers.  If seen indoors, it’s a good indicator of immediate infestation.  If seen outdoors, it may indicate that a building near the structure is being attacked and they have not yet entered the home.
  • Wings found near windows, in cobwebs or on window sills indicate the presence of termites.
  • Mud tubes found between the soil and the food source are evidence of infestation.  You will find them going up columns, on foundation walls or on pipes.
  • Wood that is in contact with the soil may show signs of moisture damage.  Tapping on this surface will give a dull, thudding sound.  When probed with a screwdriver or ice pick you will find tunnels following the grain of the wood.

Places to check outside the structure will include joints, cracks and expansion joints where mud tubes will be located.  Porches, patios, sidewalks, areas near kitchens and bathrooms are also good places to find mud tubes.  Once you’ve found evidence of infestation, you will be better able to make decisions about how to go about fighting this game-playing pest.

Next time we’ll explore a little more about mud tubes-what they are, where to find them and what role they play in the termite world.

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The above information was derived from the text, Secrets to a Pest Free Home by Richard C. Burton.   ©2003
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