Termites Swarm Texas Homes as Rainy Weather Creates Perfect Conditions

Heavy rain across Houston and southeast Texas has prompted a buzz of termite activity, with pest control services warning that they'll be looking to spread and start colonies inside people's homes.

Termite swarms inflict more than $5 billion in property damage in the U.S. each year, according to the National Pest Management Association.

They can find their way into homes through tiny gaps, establishing millions-strong colonies in houses without being detected, and causing serious damage by chewing through wood, wall supports, roof materials and other key structures from the inside out.

Three main types of termites routinely cause problems for homeowners in Texas: native subterranean termites, Formosan subterranean termites and drywood termites.

Termites usually become more active earlier in the year, but the freezing weather that gripped Texas in February may have delayed termite activity.

However, termites are attracted to moisture, and the recent onslaught of wet weather has roused them. They'll now be looking to mate and form new colonies.

"What we are seeing right now, just late swarms of subterranean termites that are flying out," Raleigh Jenkins, the president of local pest control firm ABC Home and Commercial Services, told KHOU.

"What they want to do is distribute out to the environment and they want to separate, get in the ground and males and females want to start colonies of their own."

According to Terminix, another insect control company, termites can enter homes through a gap as miniscule as one thirty-second of an inch.

In many cases, subterranean termites make their way inside via cracks in the structure of a house, or through decking, porches and other wooden structures that are in direct contact with the ground.

"Wooden structures in Texas have more than a 70 percent chance of being attacked by termites within 10 to 20 years of construction if they are not properly protected by a chemical or physical barrier," according to Texas A&M AgriLife, which has published a paper with advice for homeowners looking for a termite control service.

There are several telltale signs of a termite infestation.

Wooden flooring can display discolored blister marks, while wooden furniture may sound hollow when it's tapped or have a honeycomb structure.

Termites often shed their wings after swarming, and their droppings have a likeness to sawdust or coffee grounds.

Stick-thin tunnels, known as "mud tubes," are a sign of subterranean termites, which use them as a highway between their underground nests and their food source.

Two subterranean termites eating wood
A stock image shows a pair of subterranean termites on a piece of wood. Million of termites can form a single colony, which can be difficult to detect even inside homes. WebSubstance/iStock