For a homeowner, one of the worst things that can happen is an infestation of your home by pests of any sort. Some pests can cause more damage than others, however. Termites are among the most costly and damaging insects your home can host, even if they do not pose a personal threat to the humans living inside.
Before acting on your suspicion that you have a termite infestation, it helps to identify the pest you are dealing with. After all, many bugs look similar on a surface level, and this can throw people off.
Termites rarely show themselves
The Environmental Protection Agency discusses how to identify termites and what to do once you have. First, understand that you are not likely to actually see termites unless it is spring. After the last frost in spring, young male and female termites will emerge to mate and find a new nesting location. These are swarmers and they will often collect near windows or shed their wings near entry points to your home.
Otherwise, they rarely emerge from mud tubes, wood, or soil that they have burrowed into. Thus, the best ways to determine if you have termites is by prodding or examining exposed wood, or identifying swarms.
Termites vs. ants
Note that ant swarms often end up mistaken for termite swarms. For ants, the front wings are larger than the hind ones. With termites, all wings measure roughly the same size. Ants also have antennae that bend at a 90 degree angle, while termite antennae are straight or droop slightly.
Subterranean termites are the most common species in the country, which is also something to keep in mind when examining your home. Getting a professional to look things over once your suspicions are largely confirmed can wipe out any remaining traces of doubt.