Termites feed on wood and serve an important function by converting dead trees into organic matter. Termites (sometimes called white ants) have microorganisms in their digestive system that help digest cellulose. |
Termite primarily feed on wood, but also damage paper, books, insulation, and even swimming pool liners and filtration systems. Termites can injure living trees and shrubs, but more often are a secondary invader of woody plants already in decline. While buildings may become infested at any time, termites are of particular importance when buying or selling a home since a termite inspection/infestation report is normally a condition of sale. Besides the monetary impact, thousands of winged termites emerging inside one's home are an emotionally trying experience — not to mention the thought of termites silently feasting on one's largest investment.
Although termites are soft-bodied insects, their hard jaws bite off small fragments of wood. As the termites feed on the wood in buildings, they can cause serious structural damage.
Termite-damaged wood is usually hollowed out along the grain, with bits of dried mud or soil lining the feeding galleries. Wood damaged by moisture or other types of insects (e.g., carpenter ants) will not have this appearance. Occasionally termites bore tiny holes through plaster or drywall, accompanied by bits of soil around the margin. Rippled or sunken traces behind wall coverings can also be indicative of termites tunneling underneath.
Oftentimes there will be no visible indication that the home is infested. Termites are cryptic creatures and infestations can go undetected for years, hidden behind walls, floor coverings, insulation, and other obstructions. Termite feeding and damage can even progress undetected in wood that is exposed because the outer surface is usually left intact.
Termite activity may remain undetectable even after serious termite damage is done. Termite activity may remain undetected for many reasons, including:
* Termite swarms that have been ignored by the current owner of the house or building * Termite activity may be ongoing, but be hidden behind walls and under the floors * Termite activity may be concealed behind stored materials in the basement * Termite activity typically occurs beneath the surface of visible wood beams structural elements
Nobody can see through walls or through wood beams. An Engineer can look for the structural effects of termites. A termite control specialist can also look for termite evidence, and issue a warranty covering treatment of future termite activity.
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