Termites have been around since the days of dinosaurs and although one termite can hardly do any damage a colony of these insects can cause untold damage. Termites are so effective as a colony that they can effectively bring down an entire structure.
You can tell that you have a termite infestation from several signs including the presence of flying termites which are known as swarmers. The flying termites comprise of female and male termites that have left the colony to create a new one. When it rains and you notice hoards of flying termites entering the house in search of light then you have a colony of termites nearby. Sometimes you may not be able to see the flying termites themselves but you can see their discarded wings nearby.
You can also tell that you have termites when you hear slight but distinct banging sounds in your wooden walls or floor. This is caused by the head banging of the termites against the wood. The head banging is done by soldier termites to signal to the rest of the colony that there is danger nearby.
Finally you can tell that you have termite damage from the scent of mold and mildew that emanates from the pests.
Hollow or papery sounding timber that when you tap reveals a thin veneer of the wood. This is a sign that the timber inside has been eaten away. Sometime the wood has been eaten away so much that the veneer crumbles even with the slightest touch. In some case the termites will only leave the paint on the wood.
Termites also cause hollows in the wood which compromises the structural viability of the wood. For example, if the termite has damaged floor boards by drilling holes into the wood so when you vacuum the floor the vacuum cleaner goes clean through the floor.
Interior damage to the structure may not become apparent until the termites have done extensive damage. In fact, the damage can look similar to water damage with swollen ceilings and floors and buckling wood.
Termite damage also causes furrows inside the wood and this is especially common in antique furniture and houses. When the severity of the damage reaches such levels you have to call in an exterminator because there are no DIY solutions that will work.
Termites typically cost Americans over 5 billion in damaged structures annually. These pests are not only insidious they are excellent hiders so you may not know you have an infestation until it is too late. When you realize that you have an infestation it is best to call in the professionals immediately to gauge the extent of the damage.