How Do I Know if I Have Termites in My St. Louis City or County Home?
There are a variety of termite species worldwide. In Missouri we deal with Eastern Subterranean Termites. The Eastern Subterranean Termite is the most economically important wood destroying insect in the US. These termites cause more than $5 Billion in damage annually in the United States. Termites feed on cellulose material. While most of us think of wood only, their food can also be wall paper, paper backing of sheet rock, books, cotton and other natural fibers. Stored lumber, cardboard boxes, wooden fixtures, hardwood flooring, rotted and decaying root systems as well as your home can be a food source for these hungry visitors.
That’s all good information, but how do you know if there are termites infesting your home? There are a variety of signs to look for.
The single biggest sign of a termite infestation in your home is swarming termites. In the St. Louis City and County area swarms occur in the spring. There is an occasional swarm in the fall, but is the exception to the norm. Swarms of termites can range from a few, to hundreds or thousands. As they swarm they are trying to get outside, mate and burrow back into the ground to start a new termite colony. Unlucky termites swarm on the interior of a home and are unable to complete their quest. Whether inside or out, termites will drop their wings as they mate. If you get home and find white tissue like wings lying about on the front stoop, you likely missed the swarm. Those termites left a greeting card behind. You might be upset to see this, but you should consider yourself lucky. If gone undetected, termites infesting your home have another year to feast before swarming again next spring. More often than not, termites will swarm adjacent to concrete slab areas. Front porches, garage floors or patios are prime spots for swarming termites.
A visible indication of termite infestation would be the mud like shelter tubes termites use to move from one feeding site to another. Shelter tubes can be seen at any time throughout the year. You might notice these shelter tubes trailing up the visible foundation wall, between the sill plate and foundation wall on the interior, along floor joists in the basement, or even along a window or door frame. Termites pack this mud like substance into the areas where the wood has been eaten. If you break open one of these shelter tubes you might find whitish ant like insects inside. If you look more closely, you will see that some of them have brownish pinchers on their head. Those are the soldier termites that protect the workers. The worker termites are the ones that consume the wood and cellulose material for their food. The workers are taking the food back to the colony and feeding the rest of their nest mates.
Termites will eat the paper backing between paint and the sheet rock in your home. You might notice ruffled or bumpy paint. Rub your finger along that area and the paint will give way. Once the paint has given way, you will notice mud or dirt between the paint and sheet rock. Yes, it’s one of those shelter tubes I just told you about. Pin holes in the paint might be termites as well. You might be surprised to find shelter tubes in a few saved boards you have laying in the garage. Shelter tubes can sometimes be found on or in a cardboard box with termites happily munching away on the box and its contents.
Whatever you might be seeing that you are curious about, give STL Pest Control a call. Our termite experts are always available to help you! (314) 833-6222.
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