6 Early Signs of Termites In and Around Your Home
Termite infestation is a serious problem in Australia, affecting approximately 650,0000 homes over the past five years, with homeowners spending an estimated $3.9 billion in treatment and repair costs. These voracious pests desecrate residential properties, building extensive nests throughout the walls and eating away all wooden structures. These are only a few indications of termite invasion.
While you might ignore the warning signs of termite infestation, it’s worth noting that insurance companies in Australia don’t offer termite damage home insurance. Insurers classify termites as insects whose infestation is preventable. So, it’s up to you – the property owner – to prevent, control, and exterminate these pests.
This article provides a broader coverage of the warning signs of termites, how to identify termite damage, and the practical measures to take if you believe you have termites.
What do termites look like?
Termites look like ants but usually have a light brown to white appearance. They have unsegmented bodies with beaded antennae. There are different termite species with varied sizes, colours, and other aspects of appearance.
Termites live, work, and breed in colonies with populations ranging from a few thousand to millions. They have a highly organized social hierarchy led by the queen – the most protected member of the colony – and the king. The rest of the colony comprises worker termites, soldier termites, and alates, which gather food, protect the colony, and act as tertiary reproducers, respectively.
What does termite damage look like?
Termite infestations are not usually as apparent as you might have thought. These insects often look for hidden areas within wooden structures, where they build large colonies. If left uncontrolled, termite invasion can cause costly, extensive structural damage to your property.
As shown in this YouTube video, termite damage can extend throughout the drywall underside, creating a muddy colony with intertwined tunnels that the termites use to access various sections, such as the entry and exit points, breeding area, the royal chamber, and cellar.
Besides weakening your home’s structural integrity, termites also destroy other household valuables, such as wooden furniture, footwear, paper products, fabric, and other non-cellulose materials like building sealants, rigid foam insulation, and soft plastic.
How do you know that you have termites Australia?
1. Mud tubes
Australia is home to different types of termites, but the most common one is the subterranean termite – which lives underground. Due to their delicate exoskeleton, they require shelter for protection whenever they emerge from the ground. Therefore, termites build miniature tubes on walls or timber using dirt or termite droppings. These tiny critters often build their mud workings in hidden spaces, and while it might be challenging to identify them, they are a red flag for infestation. These mud “corridors” shelter the termites as they travel across exposed terrain to invade your home.
When you spot a mud tube, the chances are that the termites have already made a home within your home, and it’s crucial to partner with a professional termite controller for total extermination. However, you can prevent mud tubes by avoiding moist dirt around your home.
2. Frequent power failures
The current running through the electrical fittings behind walls creates warm conditions that attract termites. If you notice frequent power outages or short circuits, termites might be the most probable culprits. One way to confirm termite action is to inspect your power outlets and electrical fittings. If you see traces of earthy materials, such as mud or soil, it’s clear you have a termite infestation.
A DIY approach to fixing damaged power points can be hazardous, and it’s recommended that you hire pest controllers to clean up the areas and repair the issue.
3. Sagging floors, doors, or ceilings
Although they predominantly feed on wood, termites can destroy anything they find on their path. They may be small insects, but they have strength in numbers, causing extensive damage to critical components that are integral to your home’s structure, including the floors, ceiling beams, and skirting boards.
Blisters or cracks on any of these fixtures are some tell-tale signs of termite damage. Another way you can detect termite infestation is by knocking on the wooden structures around your property. If they sound hollow, then it means termites have eaten away the interior surfaces.
4. Termite swarmers inside and outside your home
Swarmers, also known are alates, are tertiary reproductive members of a termite colony. Like the queen, they have two pairs of pale wings. They don’t bite, sting, or eat wood; they only leave the colony in search of mates and establish new termite colonies through reproduction.
Termite swarmers inside your home are a sign of active termite infestation. Several signs indicate the presence of swarmers in and around your property. They include:
- “Flying ants” – Homeowners often mistake swarmers for flying ants, even though they bear no relation to ants.
- Discarded insect wings near windowsills and entryways
- Frass, or termite droppings, which are dry or pallet-shaped and look like sawdust or sand
5. Crack or flaking paint/plaster on walls
Termite damage to the walls resembles minor water damage, but it’s a serious and complicated problem to fix. This damage often manifests as a “honeycomb” or “bubbling” effect on the walls, resulting from termites eating away the internal wall surfaces. That usually affects the walls’ structural integrity and causes paint or plaster cracks.
If you identify this effect on your walls, the infestation is usually widespread, and preventative measures may not work. The best remedy is to hire a professional to inspect your home and provide extermination services.
6. Termites in the garden
Termites in your garden or yard clearly indicate a termite attack inside your home. These critters can’t be around your home without invading its interior. They come out of their colonies in search of food sources, and your home offers timber and an abundance of other types of termite food. Usually, termites won’t move inside your home without building colonies. Therefore, if you find them around your house, the colonies are close by and should be treated as soon as possible.
What to do if you believe you have termites
A proactive approach to termite control is a crucial part of ongoing maintenance for your home. Taking preventative measures can save you unnecessary reconstruction or remodelling costs should you notice later that you have a termite infestation on your property. It’s essential to call an expert to call an expert to help you with termite management. If you’re in Sydney, you can contact Forensic Pest Management Services for professional and reliable termite control.
You can proof your home against termites in two ways:
Preconstruction termite management
During your home preconstruction stage, you can install several materials in specific areas to prevent termites from encroaching on your property. That may include installing:
- Pipe penetration columns
- Termseal multipurpose active coating
- Termseal Ura-Fen shield Under slab barrier and Ura-Fen shield perimeter wall cavity barrier
- Preconstruction termite chemical barrier
- Termite reticulation system
Post-construction termite control
Following the completion of your home’s construction, you can back up your preconstruction termite management methods with effective post-construction termite control techniques, which include:
- Post-construction termite chemical barrier
- Termite bait or monitoring system
- Termite reticulation system
If you’re unsure of executing pre- and post-construction termite control measures or want to be safe, hire a professional experienced in termite inspection, keeping in mind that it’s recommended to have an annual inspection done every year.
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