Picture of an Eastern Subterranean termite

It’s springtime!  While spring can be a beautiful time of the year, the warm weather can also cause many pests and insects to come out of hiding! Termites are just one of the many pests that show up in droves when spring comes around. These small little bugs can wreak havoc on wooden structures and can lead to extensive damage if left untreated.  In fact, in the US alone, damage to wooden structures, including homes, cause up to $5 billion dollars per year.

What type of pests are found here in NC and how can you identify them?  The most common types of termite in NC is the Eastern Subterranean termite. When spring hits and the termite colonies expand, they tend to begin to swarm, looking for a new wood to infest. Most commonly they can be seen swarming shortly after a warm rain. Subterranean termites, as their name suggests, live underground and mainly invade soft wood that touches the ground.  They also may build what looks like mud tubes to get to their food source without ever entering the air. Because they tend to stay underground and can expand their nest rather slowly (usually reaching the capacity of their colony after a couple years with upwards of a million members), many times homes can be infested without anyone noticing.  Often, it isn’t until the damage is found, or termites start coming out of the wood, that the damage may be discovered.  Once discovered, the damage is usually pretty extensive, especially if the identified colony is large.

How can you tell if your home is infested with termites?  Even if you are not a trained pest inspector, there are a few tell-tale signs that can indicate if you may have an infestation.  Some of the things to look for include:

  • Mud tubes on the foundation of your home
  • Piles of wings near doors or windows. These are from the swarmers moving nest location and dropping their wings when finding a suitable home.
  • Hollow wood (even if the wood on the outside doesn’t look damaged)
  • Floors that sag or move as damage may have been done under the floor joists
  • Paint that looks uneven, cracked or bubbled as the eating of the interior wood can cause the paint to shift and crack

Wings of swarmers found near a window.

What are some common problems that cause termites:

As termites tend to be attracted to damp wood and wood that is in contact with the ground, there are several areas that you can look for in your home to determine if your home may be at greater risk for a termite infestation.  Some of the items to avoid include:

  • Decayed wood that comes in contact with the ground
  • High levels of moisture in the crawlspace and wood framing
  • Firewood stored against the foundation or under the deck
  • Vegetation and/or vines growing on or up against a house
  • Mulch that is in direct contact with the home

Avoiding these issues can help to decrease the likelihood of a termite infestation in your home.

What should you do if you suspect your home may be infested by termites?

As many homes are infested with termites well before the damage is identified, it is always best to schedule a pest inspection to help identify if your home may be infested.  Unfortunately, by the time termite damage is discovered, most insurance companies will not cover the damage, leaving you with a hefty bill to pay to fix the damage caused by these pests. Termite inspectors will look for signs of infestation, as well as help you identify potential areas that could be conducive to termite entry. If you already suspect you have termite damage, you should call a pest inspector promptly to help you identify and treat your home as well to help eliminate future damage.

How much damage can really be caused by these little bugs?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is A LOT.  In fact, damage from termites in homes in the US cost more than tornadoes, fires and earthquakes, COMBINED!  This damage can cost the homeowner from a few hundred dollars up to thousands of dollars.  And as mentioned previously, most home insurance companies will not cover the damage from these pests.

Check out some of the damage that we have found in homes in the triangle area.

Termite mud tubes can be seen on the floor joist and hanging off the joists.

A shower was leaking which caused termites to be attracted to the decayed wet wood. The floor joist has been eaten and extensively damaged by termites.

This floor joist and wood flooring has been eaten completely through by termites.