Pinpointing Termite Infested Structural Wood

Considering that Louisiana is home to nine termite pest species that are known to infest structural wood, including the tremendously destructive invasive Formosan subterranean termite, all homes in the state should undergo an annual termite inspection by a licensed pest control professional. It is also a good idea for homeowners to learn how to recognize the common signs of a termite infestation so that they may conduct their own amatuer inspections once every three months.

Homeowners should look for vertical mud tubes along foundation walls and within crawl spaces to determine if subterranean termites have accessed substructural wood. Attics should be inspected for the presence of sawdust or “frass” that drywood termites eject from infested wood members. While a professional inspection is the best way of determining whether or not a home is infested or is likely to become infested with termites, it should be known that as much as 45 percent of a home’s interior space may be inaccessible to inspectors. Several detection methods that allow inspectors to check for termite activity behind walls and in other inaccessible indoor spaces have been introduced and tested for efficacy over the years. Some of these detection methods have become standard, while others remain obscure.

Many pest control professionals use acoustic emission detectors to amplify the sounds that termites make as they excavate wood within inaccessible spaces. Devices that detect the methane gas emitted by termites have also been developed, but the efficacy of these odor detectors are highly variable. Much like odor detectors, trained dogs have been used to sniff out termite infested areas within homes. One study that tested trained beagles for their ability to accurately detect termite-infested wood found that they almost never fail to do so, but false positives were common. Despite this, pest control firms have been using trained dogs to pinpoint the location of termite-infested wood since the 1970s. For the most part, however, the use of dogs for pest control purposes is impractical due to the cost of sheltering, feeding and training the animals.

Have you ever taken note of the devices pest control professionals use to detect termite infestations?

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