Active termite infestation means that live insects are currently chewing on your home. Inactive means there's evidence of a previous infestation, but no sign of live termites. You might see live termites and know there's an active infestation. If you don't see termites, that doesn't mean it's inactive. You need a professional pest control agency to inspect your property and make a determination.
Active Termite Infestation
There's little doubt your house is actively infested if you see the winged creatures swarming indoors or outside, around the windows or foundation. If you don't see the actual insects, you could find their discarded wings in these areas. You might also spot their frass, or feces. Drywood termites produce pelleted frass, while subterranean termites use their frass to build tunnels. Signs of an actual infestation, even if you don't see bugs, include mud tubes around the foundation, floor joists and support pillars. These tubes are constructed not just from dirt, but from termite feces and saliva.
It's possible that the mud tubes are empty, no longer serving as the termites' means of transportation from their colony to your dwelling. An exterminator will break open and inspect the tubes for the "worker termites," tiny cream-colored insects. If these insects aren't present in various areas of the tube, you might not have an active infestation, especially if the tubes appear dry. An exterminator must thoroughly inspect your premises to determine whether there's an active termite presence.
Getting rid of termites isn't a do-it-yourself activity. Choose a termite control company carefully. Termites chew slowly, so spending several weeks finding the best pest control entity won't make much difference in destruction, Ask for recommendations before hiring a company, checking with the state regulatory department to make sure prospective companies are duly licensed. Also look for companies that are members of state or national pest control organizations. A termite inspector will go over your property thoroughly, identifying the type of termite causing the damage or the extent of activity. Treatment depends upon the amount of infestation or type of termite. Your house might require annual inspections and spot treatments, as specified in the contract with the exterminating company.
To prevent termites from invading your home, or to ensure that inactive termites stay that way, repair any leaking water pipes. Seal any openings on pipes or utility lines. Clean your downspouts and gutters regularly, and don't allow water to accumulate on the roof. Check the downspouts several times a year to make sure they are effectively diverting water. Don't store firewood or other debris near your house. Keep mulch and plantings away from the house's foundation. Termites need a water source -- without one, they quickly dehydrate.
Jane Meggitt has been a writer for more than 20 years. In addition to reporting for a major newspaper chain, she has been published in "Horse News," "Suburban Classic," "Hoof Beats," "Equine Journal" and other publications. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English from New York University and an Associate of Arts from the American Academy of Dramatics Arts, New York City.