Ant or termite Damage? Or something else?


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Old 05-09-18, 11:21 AM
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Question Ant or termite Damage? Or something else?

Hello,
I am a recent homeowner of a 1926 house in NY. Can anyone help identify what type of bug is creating this damage? We haven't seen anything moving around, but this damage has come within the past few months. We had a moisture ant problem in another part of the house, but was told that this could be termites. The baiting system we used outside did not show any termites so I'm not sure how to treat the problem. Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 05-09-18, 12:06 PM
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Looks like termite damage to me. Might be old damage but definitely wood that needs to be replaced.
 
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Old 05-09-18, 12:20 PM
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It appears to be subterranean termite damage. If that is dried mud in the galleries/tunnels, then that would confirm it. Scrape some out and wet it and see if it smears like mud.

Did you break the wood open like that or was it like that when you discovered it?

Do you have any paperwork from previous termite treatment(s)? Sometimes there is a graph of the property indicating where known and visible damage is at that date. If that area of the house is noted on the graph as damaged, then you have a date to correlate with, meaning that it could be old damage.
 

Last edited by PAbugman; 05-09-18 at 12:23 PM. Reason: add'l info
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Old 05-09-18, 12:47 PM
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Thank you both for the quick replies and opinions.

PAbugman - that is a good suggestion to confirm if there is dried mud. I'll do that.

The photos I posted are after I broke open the wood. But I broke it open because I had been noticing new damage and pieces of wood falling to the floor. When we had an inspection done prior to buying the house, we were told that same spot had OLD termite damage and it wasn't structural. The previous owners paid for a baiting system for a year as part of the closing terms. That ended in February and unfortunately, I compared the inspection photos to the area now and it looks like new damage. Do termites often move into old tunnels?
 
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Old 05-09-18, 01:27 PM
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Termites can come and go if environmental conditions change. The reason I asked if you broke them apart is because pro's will break into the wood and scrape mud tunnels to show old damage and to enhance future monitoring. The lack of visible, active termites does not mean that they aren't there. Yes, it's old damage, but they could still be nearby. Another factor to note is that termites swarm in April and May mostly for reproductive purposes. The swarm will look like hundreds of small black flying ants and can happen inside or outside. If it happens outside we generallly don't see it, but inside it is very noticeable as they swarm, mate, and many die right away. Also their wings fall off and are everywhere. Did you see anything like that this spring?

How hard was it to break into the wood?
 
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Old 05-18-18, 06:52 AM
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Thanks for all of your information. I did the test with water and it seems like the debris is mud. It was very easy to break into the wood so I think the next step is pulling it all out since it's barely wood anymore. Fortunately the structural beam does not seem to have damage, this is just the wood that's in front of the structural beam, although for the termites to get to it, they must have gone through the other beam...I think? Ahhhh hopefully this doesn't turn out to be worse.

As for the swarm, we had noticed a number of "flying ants" by a few windows. I could be wrong but I really think they were ants because we made sure to take a look at the bodies once they were dead. And we didn't notice wings but will now know to look out for that. I think we have the unfortunate situation of ants and termites, in different places. Old houses are charming!
 
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Old 05-18-18, 08:54 AM
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If the structural beam is harder, drier, etc then there may not be much evidence/damage in it, hopefully. Based on what you're seeing, the best thing to do is to get into it and see what you have to deal with. Pay close attention for live worker termites. Will look like small, whitish/cream colored ant-like insects.
 
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Old 05-18-18, 09:09 AM
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When we had an inspection done prior to buying the house, we were told that same spot had OLD termite damage and it wasn't structural.
That appears to be the sole plate resting on top of the block foundation wall. Is this correct? If so, I would consider this structural because the floor joist is resting on this plate. If the plate is removed, the floor will start to sag in that area.
 
 

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