RSS Feed
Email this article
Printer friendly page

Ask Rick A Question

Signs of Termites

Summary: People are naturally scared of the unknown. What could be more terrifying than termites lurking unseen and unheard within the walls of your own home. The signs of termites usually include massive swarms of flying termites, mud tunnels or damaged wood.

If your house has become infested with termites you might not know it. You need to know how to look for signs of termites before it is too late. You need to know what termite damage and other termite evidence looks like.

Subterranean termites live underground and search randomly for food sources by building hundreds of tunnels leading away from their nest. Eventually, they find a good food source and lead other termites to it.

Subterranean termites will stay underground until it is time for them to

Winged Reproductives

reproduce. Then specific types of termites known as alates, or reproductives, will burst from the soil in a swarming mass. The flying insects swarm above ground for a short time, try to find a mate, and then die or return underground to start a new colony. This normally happens in the spring, but can also occur a second time in the fall.

If they happen to swarm out of their tunnels and find themselves inside your house they will probably fly towards windows because they are attracted to light and want to be outside. Luckily, they will die within a few hours indoors and are not dangerous. However, the swarm is Mother Nature's way of saying, “Call an exterminator, dear!” or buy some Termidor to do a termite treatment.

Termite Mud Tubes

Subterranean termites need moisture to survive, so they build mud tubes to travel across surfaces that they cannot burrow through. These tubes are brown, about the diameter of a pencil, and can be found on exterior walls, support beams or in crawl spaces. If you find tubes like this it is sure evidence you have a termite problem and a termite treatment is required.

Termites usually have one king and a queen that lays the eggs. Worker termites gather food, which is cellulose material like decaying wood or paper, and bring it back to the other termites in the colony. They use the tubes to protect themselves from predators and to keep them moisturized.

Termites usually stay below the surface of wood, so they can be very difficult to find, even for an expert. Darkened or blistering wood is another indication of an infestation. If wood is very thin and can be easily poked through or it seems hollow if you tap on it, it may have been damaged by termites. Sometimes ripples or indentations can be seen in the wood. Look for fecal

Termite Damage

pellets which are small and granular, usually white or black, or any small holes in wooden walls, baseboards or beams. These small holes might have a little sawdust around them where particles of wood have been pushed through.

Rotting wood is attractive to termites, so any wood that has been exposed to moisture should be checked first. Any siding like stucco, wood or even brick veneer coming in contact with the ground may promote termite activity. Termites can attack the siding materials without building exposed mud tubes and would not be detected with a visual inspection.

Keep attics and foundation areas dry by having good ventilation systems in place and seal any cracks in the foundation. Check utility and service boxes for mud tubes. Remove untreated fence posts, tree stumps and any other scrap wood from around your property. Any adjoining structures like sheds or garages should also be inspected to identify an insect infestation.

For more termite articles please click here .

Ask Rick A Question


31 Aug 2012, 12:43
Similar to Michele, I have a small pile of fine black powder. Directly above the pile is a picture frame made out of an old redwood fence. Two pile line up directly with the corners of the frame. I can see small (1/16th-1/8th") white to light brown bugs occasionally on the frame. Any ideas what these are? Any treatment suggestions? I'm in Northern California. Thanks!
Ask the Exterminator
31 Aug 2012, 15:27
I can't ID your insect without a photo, but I can suggest that you simply take the frame to your local county extension agent to allow him to look at the problem. There's no charge and you'll get a definite answer to the problem.
Ask the Exterminator
31 Aug 2012, 15:29
Sure sounds like it could be active termites. Call in a pro for a free inspection.
25 Sep 2012, 22:01
Found a mud clump up by the rafters of my home (Phoenix Arizona). Knocked it down in one piece.

Inside clump found 3 white larvae like large maggot, and something that looked like a small white spider with tiny head and big white rear end. Also a dead smaller white spider like creature. Not sure if 6 or 8 legs.

Any idea? I do not think it is termites because I looked up pictures of termites and these did not look like that.
30 Sep 2012, 09:41
We are currently looking to buy a house in Southwestern Oklahoma. There was one we really liked except that when we looked in a closet about five feet from the front door, there was what looked like mud tubes (from the description I have read here and other Internet sources) about a foot long coming up from the baseboard. This is the only place we have seen the tubes inside. We didn't completely look around outside though. The home was inspected just under a year ago. It was not a termite inspection, just a general home inspection. The house is on a concrete slab with brisk up to the roof. How bad do you think it could be?
06 Oct 2012, 23:22
I have a split level house in MN, which means the bottom half of my basement walls are cinder block, underground. I removed some moldy drywall today, and there is a LOT of fine dirt caked between the drywall/styrofoam and the cinder block. Any idea what could bring so much dirt to the inside surface of the wall? It's as high as two feet, and about 1/4" thick. I could email pictures. I see some tracks/lines, but no insects. I did see a couple "rolly-polly's" elsewhere. Thanks! Chris
20 Feb 2013, 14:18
I found small holes around my baseboard and drywall, all in the corners of the same room. The termite guy came out and treated the whole perimeter with Adonis. The back wall has a deck. He treated around the perimter of the deck and said that would work for any termites in the house because Adonis is spread by the termites. Some of the holes are on the back wall where the deck is. Should I have him come back and treat under the deck or is what they did sound sufficient? It would be a pain to do the deck because it would probably have to be drilled. Thanks.
25 Mar 2013, 04:55
It's 4:30am and I was awoken by a sound- it's like the sound grains of sand make when it hits something hard- it's coming from my floor- and it is through the entire house as far as I can tell. It's little crackles or snaps all over. My house is a mobile home with plywood type wood under the flooring. It was loud enough sound to wake me up, and I listened for a while thinking it might be tiny hail hitting the window, but it is coming from the floor. I did see a swarm of termites in the woods near my house just a few days ago. I will crawl under the house later today to see if I can see tunnels, but I have been down there recently(within a couple of months) and did not see anything. Any ideas?
Ask the Exterminator
25 Mar 2013, 10:01
You've entered your question in the comments box. Therefore, I cannot tell where you are writing from and what species of termites you might have. Go back and ask your question by clicking on the yellow "Ask Rick a Question" box.
09 Apr 2013, 16:02
I have a termites in a crawl space. If I spry the beams in the crawl space, termites may move to a diffrent areas in the house and cause more damages?
what is the proper way to treat the beams?

Thank you.
Ask the Exterminator
10 Apr 2013, 11:22
If the termites are subterranean variety, you will need to treat the soil around the foundation of the house. Homeowners simply do not have the equipment to do this, so you will have to hire an exterminator.
11 Apr 2013, 09:29
Thank you.
I live in NY so I have the subterranean termites. Does Treating the soil will get rid of the termites in the beams as well? my house is semiattached and i noticed that the termites colonies between me and the neighbour. How should I treat the neighbour side, should i treat this part by digging holes next to the foundation from inside in the crawl space and add the termidor? I have two diffrent opinions from exterminators, one is telling me to spray the beams and add the bait around the house and ignore the neighbor side and the other is just add the bait outside and this will kill the queen. Which one should follow? Please advise. Thank you.
Ask the Exterminator
11 Apr 2013, 09:34
If you wish to discuss this issue you will have to submit your question via the "Ask Rick a Question" box. This is the "Comment" box.
11 Apr 2013, 10:12
Thank you. I just did.
Sahar morad
03 May 2013, 17:18
I found sand like material on top of my dryer so does this mean there r termites in the wood above it??
08 May 2013, 12:36
Hi I have noticed a few carpenters ants in my home only the workers but I keep gettin little pin sized holes in my walls and celing I've also noticed holes in my stairs I haven't really noticed much dust but I think it might be termites what do you think
16 Jul 2013, 13:15
I found a spider web at my window. When I cleaned it up there were several tiny round holes in the baseboard. What could that be?
Ask the Exterminator
16 Jul 2013, 14:48
I'm not certain the holes are spider related.
30 Jul 2013, 15:36
Can the termite fecal pellets pull in moisture which in time turns into mold which then graduates into black mold?
08 Aug 2013, 21:50
I am getting dirt like particles coming from behind my shower wall starting about a month ago. My husband thinks it just dirt, but just now I thought about hitting the wall around the area I am finding this stuff and more and more of this stuff is coming through a tiny crack that is meant to be there. Is this, in your opinion, the work of termites? We haven't seen any termites or bugs of any kind. The only reoccurring bugs that have been seen in our home are earwigs, the normal grass spider, and here recently, silverfish (if that is the correct name for them). We do have a termite contract that was started 2006 or 2007. Thanks for your input on my question.
12 Aug 2013, 05:16
I found a bit of wood powder and a big hole in my closet. Might this be termites. I have had carpenter ants but have not seen them in a while. I have used Terro ant repellent and they have not returned. Any ideas. Thanks.
03 Sep 2013, 16:49
Hi I recently last November bought a brand new new townhouse just built. A month ago I found tiny tiny little white ish bugs on the unfinished part of the basement so we sparyed and vacumed that area a few times. We used raidmax! Now I was laying on the finished part carpet with my baby and saw on the baseboards a few of the same tiny little white ish bugs. It was like they were trying to walk up the wall to get out of the basement. They are easy to kill I just squish them with my finger. We put out little traps but when I went to check traps nothing was in the trap but I found ANOTHER one half way up the wall from the baseboard. Do you have any idea what they could be?

Ask the Exterminator
03 Sep 2013, 16:52
Could be termites, but since it's new construction, I kind of doubt it. I'm guessing it's more likely booklice.
20 Sep 2013, 18:40
14 Feb 2014, 01:11
I was cleaning my kitchen table and i kind of hit it and then i heard all this noise. Sounded like a trapped bee
25 Oct 2014, 14:32
I was cleaning my gutters with my leaf blower blowing debris down one of my roof valleys. In the process about 4 brown damp wood termites were blown out from under the shingles. I live in Washington State and have done enough research on the web to be pretty certain that what I saw were damp wood termites. The bugs were about 5/8" long and brown in color. It's hard to believe that the roofing would be damp enough for the correct habitat though. I saw them in late summer and we had not had rain in months here. I would have to think that things would be pretty dry at least at the time that I saw them. What do you recommend? Would you recommend that I call one of the national exterminators - Orkin or Terminix - or a local exterminator?
Ask the Exterminator
25 Oct 2014, 15:08
A pest management company is only as good as its employees. There are excellent small pest control companies throughout the U.S. The giant national companies have some great branch managers and some not-so-great branch managers. I recommend going online to the Better Business Bureau's free rating lookup. It will list any complaints against a company and help you with your decision.
31 Mar 2015, 15:38
Yesterday we found what appears to be termites and termite larvae. They were right next to the base of the toilet in the guest bathroom and the only exit we could find was a small crack in the caulking. We are treating outside and inside this weekend but can you tell me if this means I have a major problem or is it possible we caught them early enough? My house is only 5 yrs old and this is the first sign I have seen them since I moved in. I have had exterminators treat my year and inside but Im not sure they are specifically treating for termites, even though I was told they are sensitive to scents even if it doesn't kill them. Will doing these ourselves be enough?
Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my email
The box below is for visitor comments! Questions posted in this box may not be answered by Ask the Exterminator. For quickest response click on the "Ask the Exterminator a Question" link at top of this page.
Security Image:



More Articles Like This

  • Flying Ants vs Termites
  • Killing Carpenter Ants
  • Termite Biodiesel Fuels
  • Termite Wood
  • Carpenter Ants Identification
  • Termite Protection
  • Drywood Termites
  • Termite Barrier
  • Do It Yourself Termite Control
  • Termite Resistant Wood

  • Categories: