How do I know if I have a termite problem?
These social, colony-oriented insects of whitish color have an incredible power: given enough time, they can completely devour any wooden structure, and yes, that includes your house.
A big problem comes in the fact that they live hidden inside structures, therefore the damage happens from the inside-out, anddoesn’t show until it is too late. So it is important to be careful, and it is important to know the signs. For this, it doesn’t hurt to learn a bit more about termites and their habits.
General termite information
We could say the start of the cycle in termite life is when a mature colony sends their fertile males and females on a “nuptial flight”. A formed couple will look for an appropriate place to make a nest and then start the mating process. After fertilization, both male and female lose their wings and become termite king and queen of the new habitat, remaining in the nest until the end of their lives and constantly reproducing. When the colony is mature the cycle repeats itself, and that’s about the time where it stops being cute.
Termites feed on dead plant material and anything that contains cellulose, thus their big love for wood. But the thing that actually makes them interesting (and highly problematic) is that termites are one of the most resilient, successful insects groups on earth: they have colonized every landmass apart from Antarctica, and the size of their colonies can go up to several millions. On a similar note, termite queens have the longest lifespan in the insect world, with some of them managing to live up to 50 years.
But of the 2.800 different termite species that exists, only a 7% are considered plagues that cause economic damage to human socio-economic environment, so at least there’s that.
From the species that would actually eat your home, there are 3 groups that will most likely include the plague you want to get rid of:
Although there are a number of recommendations to deal with this plague with home-made implements, the wisest thing to do may just be to call a professional from the beginning. This article hopefully showed the difficulties in dealing with these creatures, as locating their nests and colonies can be hardest part of the ordeal. Professionals use tools such as IR thermometers and moisture-meters in order to find them.
Still, there are a couple of places to look for if you want to catch these elusive little enemies before they do too much damage to your home or other structures. If you find them, it may be a good idea to keep a sample so an expert can correctly identify their type.