07/30/20

Why Do I Have Termites in My Topeka Home?

Termites are one of the most dreaded pests that homeowners in Topeka may have to contend with. They are famous for being destructive and challenging to deal with once they start eating through your home. While termites do not pose an immediate risk to human health or safety, they are responsible for millions of dollars in structural damage to homes and businesses every year.

Termites, in their natural environment, are considered beneficial. They accelerate the decomposition of rotting tree stumps, fallen branches, and debris. These wood-destroying insects live their life in underground colonies and rarely make themselves known unless you go looking under an old woodpile or log.

What do termites look like?

Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite in the Topeka area. These insects live underground and eat damp, rotting, and dead wood. Termites are social insects that live in colonies with a set of castes that have specific roles. The appearance of these insects varies somewhat based on their role in the colony.

  • Swarmers: Large black or brown insects with small wings for limited flying. This includes both kings and queens for mating. Found near windows and light fixtures.
  • Soldiers: Medium-sized with a white body with an elongated yellow head. Soldiers defend the community and help feed the kings and queens. Travel through mud tubes that are constructed along beams and walls.
  • Workers: Smallest in size at ¼ inch in size at most and white. Workers are responsible for finding food and bringing it back to the colony.

The likelihood of finding physical termites in your home is low. The best way to tell if you have a termite infestation on your hands is to look for evidence of their presence.

Signs of a Termite Infestation

Due to the prevalence of wood as a building material in our homes, modern dwellings provide an accidentally abundant food source for wood-destroying insects like termites. Unfortunately, there are not many obvious signs that these pests have taken up residence in your home until significant damage has occurred. Termites live underground and burrow into the wood as they tunnel through, so homeowners can go many months or years before discovering that they have an infestation.

Mud Tubes

Although termites live underground and do not make themselves well known to homeowners, one of the most obvious signs that you can look for is mud tubes or mud tunnels usually found on foundation walls. Worker termites construct these tunnels and use them as coverings to move in and out of your home, where they are secretly munching away on the wood structure. Mud tubes also protect termites from the elements while they travel.

Clicking Sounds in the Walls

Another sign of an active termite infestation that you can hear is an audible clicking sound inside the walls. Termites feed continuously, 24-hours per day, so you could hear them inside your walls at any time. The sound of their jaws sounds a lot like a pair of scissors snipping over and over.

Peeling Paint or Bubbled Wallpaper

A heavy infestation can peel paint or bubble wallpaper, making them appear to be soft and droopy. Contrary to what many homeowners assume, it can also be the cause of doors and windows that suddenly become sticky and difficult to open due to the extra humidity. Buckling floorboards or splintered wooden doorframes are also indicators of termite feeding.

How to Prevent Termites

Aside from seeking out unconventional building materials that do not include wood, homeowners can employ a few small tricks to prevent termite infestations. Since termites wreak so much havoc on the structure of a building, prevention is really the best approach to saving yourself thousands of dollars in repairs.

  • Seal gaps or cracks, especially around water and gas lines.
  • Reduce points where wood reaches the ground. Wood siding should stop at least six inches above ground level.
  • Use a gravel barrier in landscaping around the home to keep soil from meeting the house.
  • Limit or do not use mulch around the home.
  • Fix water leaks and prevent conditions of damp wood.
  • Remove stumps and clean up debris around your yard.
  • Keep firewood or wood piles far away from your home.

If you suspect that you have termites in your home, it is imperative to address the issue immediately. These pesky insects cause serious structural damage as they eat the structure of the building from the inside. Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover termite damage, so the cost of repairing your home fall on you.

Contact Schendel Pest Services for professional termite control and prevention today. We can diagnose infestations and provide a fast remedy to your termite troubles to stop damage before it worsens. Learn about our suite of termite services by clicking here.