The termites we have in Maryland are called subterranean termites. These termites are very destructive to property. They cost U.S. property owners billions of dollars annually. The reason they are so destructive is linked to how sneaky they are. So, don't expect to easily detect a termite problem on your Maryland property. You're going to have to go looking for the evidence. Here are some tips to help you detect subterranean termites.
Detecting Worker Termites
There are many places termites can be found in your yard. Some are easy to check. Others aren't quite so easy. What you'll be looking for are tiny, pale insects. A worker termite is only about ⅛ of an inch long. This is incredibly small. Keep this in mind during your search. You could pick up a dead branch that has hundreds of termite workers in it.
Dead branches are a good place to start your search. Lift the branch pieces up from the ground and inspect the branch and the ground underneath. You'll need to do this quickly as workers will go into hiding as soon as possible.
If you have leaf piles in your yard, you may be able to detect worker termites by moving a portion of the pile and examining the ground.
If you have a wood pile, you can pick up pieces of wood that sit on the ground and examine them.
If you have a brush pile, you can examine areas that have wood-to-soil contact.
If you have mulch, you may be able to find termites between the mulch layer and the soil.
If you have a stump or dead bush, you may be able to cut into it and find workers.
The damage that subterranean termites do is mostly on the inside of wood. This is difficult or impossible to detect. Your best chance of detecting damage is to excavate soil from around the bottom of fence posts, deck posts, and any structures that have wood-to-soil contact. If you find damage, it will look like trenches have been carved into the wood. You're also likely to find worker or soldier termites.
If termites are in the wood of your home, you might notice bulging, honeycomb dents, or wood that is splintering. Another way to detect termites is to tap on wood and listen to see if it is hollow.
Finding Shelter Tubes
Subterranean termites dry out when exposed to air. If they can't find wood-to-soil contact to enter your home, they will create shelter tubes. You might get lucky and find a shelter tube on the outside of your foundation wall but, more often than not, these shelter tubes will be established in sheltered locations. To find them, you will need to crawl under structures or into your crawl space, if you have one. If your home is on concrete piers, it may be necessary to use a flashlight and a mirror to inspect the interior of each pier.
Shelter tubes are made of soil and termite saliva. This mixture creates a mud substance—which is why some people call shelter tubes mud tubes. These mud structures will look like a wiggly line or have the appearance of a river. The river shape will start from the ground and branch off as it travels up your foundation wall. When many shelter tubes are created in one area, they can start to look like a big, muddy column. In sheltered locations, such as crawl spaces, U.S. pest control technicians have found columns that have been as large as four feet in diameter! That is a termite superhighway into the structure.
Noticing Termite Swarmers
When a termite nest matures (which can take more than three years), it begins to develop winged termites. These are male and female reproductives. The job of the reproductives is to establish new nests. This isn't a great way to discover a termite infestation because it will allow termites to damage structures on your property for years.
Termite swarmers are:
Black with long white wings that hang past the end of the abdomen
⅜ of an inch long (this includes the wing length)
Often found together in a large group
Since detecting termites is a difficult task, you might want to have someone else do it. If so, it is best to have a licensed pest professional handle the task. If you live in Maryland, consider reaching out to Capitol Pest for assistance. We have over 80 years of pest control experience, and our licensed pest professionals have the extensive training and experience to provide you with a quality inspection and appropriate documentation, should you decide to sell your home. It is easy to get started. Take a moment to navigate to our "contact us" form and schedule a service visit. We look forward to assisting you with essential protection for your Maryland property.