It’s been said that there are three types of homes here in Phoenix: those that have had termites, those that will get termites, and those that currently have termites. Unfortunately, termites are a major problem here in the Valley, and no home is immune to an infestation. That is why it’s important for all homeowners to know the three signs of termite activity and when they need to call in a professional. Fast action can limit the spread of the infestation and prevent major property damage.
The 3 signs of termite activity
Here in Arizona, there are hundreds of active species of termites. However, the species that poses the greatest danger to your home here in Phoenix is the desert subterranean termite. As its name suggests, this termite travels through the earth to access potential food sources. In the desert, this includes rotting trees or dead cacti. However, they can just as easily infest your home and start causing damage.
Nationwide, subterranean termites are the single most common and destructive type of termite, accounting for 90% of all termite-caused property damage by some estimates. While their preferred environments may differ, all subterranean termites have a few telltale signs that give their presence away. Let’s review.
Visible Mud Tubes
Mud tubes are often the proverbial canary in the coal mine when it comes to termite activity. Since termites do most of their work and damage behind the scenes, a mud tube is the first—and arguably best—sign you’re going to get that they have entered your home.
So, just what are mud tubes? Subterranean termites, so used to burrowing beneath earth, face a key challenge: how do they climb vertical surfaces to access wood, whether it be in a rotting tree or in your home? Mud tubes are the answer. By constructing these thin tunnels of mud, held together with their saliva, termites build a superhighway up your home’s foundation. This is critical: like all termites, the desert subterranean termite is sensitive to heat and changes in moisture. The mud tube allows them to travel outside of the ground without being exposed to the elements.
Termites build mud tubes for a wide variety of purposes. Some, such as the ones on your home’s foundation, are for accessing new food sources. However, termites in an attic can also build drop tubes that connect them to new beams. Unlike the ones on your foundation, these tubes can actually be more-or-less freestanding, allowing subterranean termites a great deal of mobility in your home.
The first place to look for mud tubes is on the foundation of your home. Inspect the perimeter of the concrete slab for any mud tubes. If you spot one, that’s as good a sign as any that you need to call in a pest professional.
As termites move through wood, they start to hollow it out and weaken it. This can be frustrating for homeowners: by the time you notice exterior damage to a beam or door, chances are that termites have already done some heavy damage. However, there are other ways to determine if wood has been damaged in your home.
Knock on the wood’s surface with a small hammer. Compare the sound to other wood beams in your home. If the wood is recognizably hollow, that’s a good sign termites may have weakened it.
Most termite movement through wood happens right beneath the surface and runs along the wood grain. If you have a piece you suspect of being infested, it’s possible to cut into it ever-so-slightly and see telltale termite tunnels.
A past history of structural damage is one of the main reasons why you should always schedule a homebuyer’s termite inspection.
Like many termites, desert subterranean termites will swarm under the right conditions. Certain members of the colony grow wings and will take flight in the cooler, post-rain evenings of late summer, between July and September. Their purpose in doing so is to establish a new colony: moist, waterlogged soil presents them with the best conditions for doing so. If you notice a swarm of termites around your home—like many insects, they’re drawn to bright patio or outdoor lights—it probably means there are already termites in your home. It’s time to call in a pest professional.
Call us for a free termite inspection
Termites have a very real cost associated with them. An uninterrupted colony can cause damage to your home over the course of several years. At the first sign of termite activity, you need to bring in a termite professional for a closer inspection. Here in Phoenix, we’re the team to call. Our termite experts are standing by and ready to help. Give us a call today to schedule your free termite inspection.