If you have an older home, the house's support beams accessible by your crawlspace may have been built with untreated wood. Because this bare, unprotected is susceptible to termite invasion, you may wonder how you can find out if the insects are already present. If so, look for the following four signs that strongly indicate that you have a termite infestation.
Appearance of "Flying Ants"
At the openings of your home's crawlspace, you may start seeing what many people describe as flying ants. However, these are most likely winged termites that are also called swarmers.
These swarmers are usually the first wave of termites. They are sent out from the swarm to investigate new homes that have an ideal amount of moisture and wood which they use for food.
If you see these swarmers at the entrances to your space, they may either be investigating or are already bringing in the rest of the swarm to feast on your home's support beams.
If you see piles of tiny wings on the ground outside the space or near any of the beams, this means they have already shed them and have begun burrowing into your home's infrastructure. In this case, you should look carefully for other the other signs of an infestation listed below.
Tiny Holes in the Beams
One sign in the wood itself that termites have begun burrowing is the presence of tiny holes in the support beams. These holes serve as the entry and exit points for the termites where they tunnel and harvest the wood.
While you are looking for the holes, shine a flashlight a few inches away to fully visualize the surface of the wood. Since the holes are very small, you may miss them if you do not have enough light in the dark crawlspace.
When checking for the holes, make sure you look for any areas that are covered with mold. Termites love the taste and smell of mold. Not only does the fungus improve the taste of the wood for the insects, the growth keeps the wood moist and soft, creating the perfect home for the pests.
Hollow Sound When You Knock on the Wood
When you do find tiny holes in the support beams, one way to check to see if they have already started harvesting the wood and creating tunnels is to knock on the beam. Normally, solid wood makes a "thud" noise when you hit it.
However, if the wood sounds hollow when you knock on the beam, this most likely means that the termites have already caused extreme damage to the wood. One way to affirm this suspicion is covered in the next section.
Visualization of Tunnels Under The Wood's Surface
If the beam sounds hollow, the next thing you need to do is try to get a visual on the damage beneath the wood's surface. Since the tunnels are usually begun towards the outer part of the wood, you can do this by cutting into the wood with a utility knife and prying off a small piece.
If the wood is sound, you will not be able to easily remove the wood. However, in the presence of termites, you should have no problem peeling the wood's surface back.
When the wood is removed, you may see tiny tunnels that are reminiscent of corrugated cardboard. Or, you may see the termites running through the tunnels. Either way, your suspicions that you have a termite infestation will be confirmed.
If you find one or more of the above signs, you have a serious infestation on your hands that could cause catastrophic damage to your home's infrastructure. You should call termite control service as soon as possible so they can determine the extent of the damage and discuss their game plan for getting rid of your unwelcome termite population.