How will I know if my home is infested? One of the most visible indicators of a termite problem is pencil-wide mud foraging tubes extending over foundation walls, support piers, sill plates, floor joists, headers and subfloors. Termites construct these "shelter tubes” from particles of soil as they travel between their underground colonies and the structure. Termite-damaged wood is usually hollowed out along the grain, with bits of dried mud or soil lining the feeding galleries. Wood damaged by moisture or other types of insects (e.g. carpenter ants) will not have this appearance.
There will often be no sign of the termites themselves-small, creamy-white insects with an “ant-like” appearance. An infestation can go undetected for years, hidden behind drywall, paneling, floor coverings, insulation or other obstructions. Termite feeding can even progress undetected in wood that is exposed, because the outer surface is usually left intact. Detecting an infestation often requires the trained eye of a professional inspector. However, even the most experienced inspector can overlook damage that is hidden.
Another visible sign of infestation is the presence of winged termites emerging indoors or from the building exterior. Termite swarmers have a dark body and are attracted to light and may be seen around windows, doors and light fixtures. They can be differentiated from winged ants by their straight antennae, uniform waist and wings of equal size. Ants have elbowed antennae, constricted waists and forewings that are longer that the hind wings.