No homeowner ever wants to encounter termite nests in their home or yard. And for good reason — a termite infestation can lead to thousands of dollars in structural damage and repairs. But part of owning a home is knowing how to spot potential issues so you can help prevent and manage them, including termite infestations. Learn about termite mounds and nests and what to do if you suspect termites are living in your home or yard.
Do Termites Live in Mounds or Nests?
The short answer is both. However, mound-building termites only live in South America, Australia and Africa. These termites build impressive towering mounds primarily out of their saliva, feces and clay. Termite species in the United States, on the other hand, build nests either underground or in wood. If termites build nests in or around your home, you will need professional help controlling termites.
What Types of Termites Exist?
There are more than 2,000 species of termites across the world and about 50 of those live in the U.S. Of those 50, three types of termites are especially known for causing problems for homeowners.
- Subterranean termites are the most common type in the United States, and there are several species of this termite in the country. These termites build nests in soil because they require the moisture from the ground to survive. They then migrate upward to feed on the wooden components in homes. Subterranean termites are found in every state except for Alaska.
- Formosan termites, in particular, are known for causing significant structural damage because their colony sizes are so large. These insects are actually a type of subterranean termite. They typically start on the surface, but quickly drill into the wood and leave much of the outer surface for protection. Mud tubes seal up any openings to help maintain favorable humidity and temperature. For the most part, however, they remain hidden inside walls or behind other building materials. Formosan termites are found in many southeastern states, along the Gulf Coast and in Hawaii.
- Drywood termites don't require moist soil to thrive — instead, they get the moisture they need from wood they ingest. They're most often found in states with milder winters, including southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia and Florida. Drywood termites may establish several colonies in one home and are known to infest wooden framing, flooring and furniture.
Who is Likely to Have Termite Problems?
Termites are a very common pest in the U.S. and can be found in almost every state. Because of this, any homeowner may encounter termite nests or infestations at some point.
However, there are some factors that might make your house more attractive to termites. For example, homes with existing structural damage, leaks or high humidity levels may be more likely to attract termites in search of food and moisture. Older homes with damaged components or shifting foundations are also more vulnerable to termite attacks, as cracks or openings can provide an easy access point for these insects (and other pests, too).
What are Termites Looking for?
As with all pest issues, termite infestations begin with the need for three things: food, water and shelter.
The termite's main source of nutrition is cellulose, the fibrous component found in plant cell walls and, of course, wood. This means wooden structures, flooring and even some furnishings (depending on the type of termite) are all attractants. And wooden structures and frames can be especially attractive if they're damaged or have been exposed to high moisture levels or leaks.
Termites also tunnel and build nests in homes and yards. And one mature termite colony can consist of anywhere from 60,000 to 1 million individual termites, leading to a high potential for structural damage.
Where Do Termites Like to Live?
The location of termite nests will depend on the type and species of termite in question. Subterranean termites nest underground but build mud tunnels from the soil to gain entry into your home.
The same goes for Formosan termites, who build the mud tunnels until they enter the wood that makes up your home, which protects them. As they bore through the wood in your house, they'll use mud to plug up holes that open up as the wood opens up from damage. Oftentimes, wood that's been damaged by Formosan termites has a wavy or rippled appearance.
Drywood termites are the most likely species to build termite nests in your home. Since they don't need excess moisture to thrive, they're able to live in your walls, floors, attics and even your wooden furniture. Drywood termites typically seek out wood in building structures, door frames, furniture and hardwood floors.
When Should You Look for Termites?
Termites tend to be most active during the spring, summer and fall, though in warmer climates, they can remain active year-round.
However, you can find termite nests or signs of a termite infestation in your home any time of the year.
Common signs of termite nests and activity include:
- Frass (termite excrement) that resembles sawdust or coffee grounds
- Mud tubes where the ground meets your home
- Discarded insect wings near closed doors or windows
- Visible tunnels in wood or wood that sounds hollow
- Wood that appears wavy on the surface
- Soft spots or blistering on floors
- Peeling paint
- Loose tiles in bathrooms and kitchens
What Do You Do If You Spot Signs of Termite Nests?
Termites can do serious damage to your home. In fact, they cause about $5 billion in damage every year in the U.S. If you suspect you have termite nests in your home or yard, reach out to a termite control specialist immediately. The experienced pest control professionals at Terminix®; can evaluate the situation, help identify termites and work with you to create a plan for treatment and control.
Don't wait to start taking steps to prevent and control termites in your home.
Schedule your free termite inspection today.