Subterranean termites are the kind found inside most homes. These damaging pests nest in the soil and build tubes of mud to gain access to the wood inside your home. Some termites make their nests in trees when there is plenty of moisture available. Termites live in colonies, which are made up of several different types of termites. The workers are wingless, white or gray in color and are 1/8 inch in length. These termites are plentiful inside their colonies, working hard to groom other termites, forage for food and construct and repair shelters. Soldiers are another termite that is wingless and larger than workers. These termites are responsible for colony defense. Winged termites are called swarmers and typically lose their wings after flight. Swarmers are an indication of termite infestation, which requires control methods before extensive damage occurs to the structure of the home.
If you find winged termites swarming inside your home, you most likely have a termite infestation. Winged termites are usually seen during the spring months, during the daytime. Swarmers do not feed on wood, but they indicate large numbers of termites are present in your home. Termites feed on wood, fiberboard and certain fabrics. Prolonged feeding can cause serious damage to your home that can be costly to repair.
After finding winged swarmers inside your home, you must search for signs of infestation. Damaged wood is difficult to detect, but it has a hollow sound if you tap on it. Removing the exterior surface of the wood allows you to see termite galleries inside the wood. Termite feeding typically goes with the grain of the wood. Subterranean termites use parts of the wood and particles of soil to build tunnels.
Because every home is susceptible to termite infestations, using insecticides as a barrier is the most effective way to keep termites from damaging your home. Most houses are treated with soil-based insecticides before the concrete slab is poured. Termite baits are also effective in reducing termite infestations. Some baits are placed beneath the soil and poison termites as they feed on the bait. However, heavy infestations of termites may require a professional exterminator to keep them under control. If you find winged termites in your home, be sure to tell your exterminator so appropriate action can be taken to ensure minimal damage to your home's structure.