What are the Signs of Termites?

M.R. Anglin

Termites can cause considerable damage to homes and buildings. While there are many signs of termites that can be present in your home, they can be very hard to spot. This is because termites are adept at keeping hidden. Some of the signs of termites present in your home are swarms, mud tubes, wood damage, termite feces, and discolored areas on wood. Should you see any of these signs, you should contact a professional exterminator immediately.

Aside from seeing swarms of termites, homeowners can check regularly for signs such as mud tubes.
Aside from seeing swarms of termites, homeowners can check regularly for signs such as mud tubes.

It is a good idea to check your home for signs of termites about once a month, especially if you are in an area that is susceptible to termites. Usually, it is the older homes—homes 10 years or older—that tend to attract termites. However, new homes built near a termite colony can incur termite damage. It is necessary to look closely for any signs of termites. This is because termites are susceptible to the environment and predators and thus like to stay hidden.

Termites can cause significant damage to homes and other buildings.
Termites can cause significant damage to homes and other buildings.

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If you see a swarm of winged insects, this may be one sign that termites are present in or around your home. Swarms usually happen in the spring after a rain shower. These swarms are typically made up of winged termites that are flying off to find a new location to colonize. In some cases, the only evidence you may find of a swarm are discarded wings. Therefore, be sure to check around window sills, doors, vents, bathtubs, and sinks for them.

A mud tube is a tube made out of dirt that termites build to move from the soil to a food source. Since your house may be that food source, mud tubes can be one more of the signs of termites. Mud tubes are about the same size in diameter as a pencil. Termites will often build their mud tubes against a surface or as free standing structures. They can often be found in basements, crawl spaces, or on the exterior or your home.

Another of the signs of termites is wood damage. Damage to wood can be hard to spot. Therefore, if you hear hollow-sounding studs, baseboards, or floor, try breaking them open. It should be noted that this procedure may be best left to a professional. Since termites eat following the grain of wood, a honeycomb pattern may be a sign that termites have been at your wood. You may also find a bulge in the wall which is a sign of an above ground nest.

Should you see dark areas in your wood floors or areas that are blistered, you may have found another of the signs of termites. In addition, if you knock on the wood and hear an answering tap, there is a good chance that termites are present. This is because soldiers will knock their heads against the wall to signal there is danger lurking. You should also check for termite feces that termites occasionally clean out their tunnels from “kick out holes.” If you see six-sided, oval-shaped pellets it may be one more of the signs of termites in your home.

Houses in susceptible areas should be checked once a month for termites.
Houses in susceptible areas should be checked once a month for termites.

Discussion Comments


@stoneMason-- Yes, it is! It sort of looks like sawdust right? That is a sign of termites. I think that forms as the termites dig through the wood and may show up in between cracks and in the corner of walls.

I highly recommend calling a professional and getting the place checked out. If you want, you can look for some additional signs. If the house is particularly old, the sound test is a good one to try like the article said. Hit the wall with a hammer and listen for the sound of hallow wood.

But keep in mind that termites may not leave much signs. I agree with the article that these insects are very good at being discreet. Often times, termites are discovered after they have done considerable damage. So it's a good idea to call a professional as a precaution. Professionals know exactly what to look for.


Is wood dust near the walls or between wood planks a sign of termites? I see wood dust at my grandfather's house frequently and the dust seems to appear out of nowhere.


I noticed mud tubes from a dead tree trunk in my yard to my house last week. I called a professional exterminator and he confirmed that we have termites. Anyway, the house has been treated and we are getting the tree trunk removed today. Hopefully this will nip the problem in the bud. We really should have gotten rid of that trunk a long time ago.

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