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How to Identify Termite Activity

Evidence of Termites

Termites can often live on your property or inside your home for an extended period of time before being detected. Whether it’s drywood termites, which burrow deep within wooden structures, or subterranean termites, which are primarily found underground, these discreet intruders can be tough to discover before significant damage has already been done. To help keep damage to a minimum, it’s crucial to catch the warning signs as soon as possible.

How to Tell If Termites Are Active in Your House

  • Discolored or drooping drywall

  • Peeling paint that resembles water damage

  • Wood that sounds hollow when tapped

  • Small, pinpoint holes in drywall

  • Buckling wooden or laminate floor boards

  • Tiles loosening from the added moisture termites can introduce to your floor

  • Excessively squeaky floorboards

  • Crumbling, damaged wood

  • Stuck windows or doors

  • Maze-like patterns in furniture, floor boards or walls

  • Mounds of drywood termite pellets, often resembling small piles of salt or pepper

  • Piles of wings left behind after swarms, often resembling fish scales

  • Mud tubes climbing the foundation of your home

  • Flying termite swarms anywhere on your property

Why do termites shed their wings?

Picture of Discarded Termite Wings after Termite Swarm

Discarded Termite Wings after Termite Swarm

Termite swarms may take place inside or outside of a home as mature termites leave the nest to start new colonies. Soon after swarmers take flight, they shed their wings. You may find small piles of wings in spider webs and on surfaces around your home’s foundation, like window sills.

Termite swarms may take place inside or outside of a home as mature termites leave the nest to start new colonies. Soon after swarmers take flight, they shed their wings. You may find small piles of wings in spider webs and on surfaces around your home’s foundation, like window sills.

Why do termites swarm?

Formosan Termite Swarm Picture

Formosan Termite Swarm

Swarmers from mature colonies typically leave the nest at one of two times per year - during the spring or during the fall. The exact timing of the swarms varies based on the species and weather conditions. Swarms on the exterior of a home may be missed by homeowners, as they are typically a brief event during the morning or afternoon – a time when many people are not at home. Formosan termites also can swarm at dusk.

What is a termite mud tube?

Picture of Subterranean Termite Mud Tunnel

Subterranean Termite Mud Tunnel

Subterranean termites build mud tubes (also known as shelter tubes) to serve as bridges between their colony and the wood they consume. These tubes are made of tiny pieces of soil, wood and debris, and are used to protect the colony from predators and conserve moisture.

What do termite droppings look like?

Drywood Termite Droppings Picture

Drywood Termite Droppings

After consuming wood, drywood termites often leave behind frass or droppings. These tiny fecal mounds often indicate a nearby termite infestation.

How to Identify Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are usually found in warm, southern climates. They house their colonies within the wood on which they feed. As the termites consume wood, they burrow mazes of tunnels and chambers within walls and furniture. The pests leave small piles of feces that resemble pellets where they have eaten or nested.

Illustration of Drywood Termite

Illustration of Drywood Termite

Drywood termites also cause sagging floors, walls, and ceilings and may leave behind areas which appear to be water damaged. After winged drywood termites swarm, their wings shed and can be found in small piles throughout an infested home. These wings resemble fish scales.

See swarm photos.

Signs of Subterranean Termite Infestation

Subterranean termites are found throughout the continental United States. These pests build their colonies underground and can travel above ground to access food sources. They enter homes through cracked or unsealed foundations as well as through tunnels constructed from mud, their feces, and saliva. These tunnels are brown, dry, and cylindrical in appearance.

Illustration of Subterranean Termite

Illustration of Subterranean Termite

The presence of these tunnels near the foundation of your home is a sure sign of subterranean termite infestation. Just like drywood termites, subterranean termites produce winged swarmers which indicate an active termite colony.

How to Identify Termite Infestation

Since termite activity may only become visible after they’ve been active for months or even years, it’s crucial to have your property inspected by a trained professional. Not seeing swarms of these winged insects doesn’t mean your house is safe from them. While a telltale sign of an active infestation is an accumulation of termites flying around your windows or foundation, there are a few other warnings that also indicate a problem.

If you suspect termite activity on your property, make sure to contact an expert in termite identification as soon as possible. Orkin Pros are trained to address any current signs of termites in a house, as well as implement solutions to help prevent future issues. Through a specialized approach to termite control, Orkin can help protect your home with a termite treatment plan suited to your specific needs.

Don’t let termites eat through your home! To learn more about how to prevent termites, contact your local Orkin branch.

Termite Control

How do you know if you have termites?

Learn the signs to look for to determine if you might have a termite infestation.

Why should you be worried?

Termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in damage each year and most insurance plans don’t cover the damage.

Schedule a FREE Inspection

We’ll determine whether you actually have termites, then discuss a treatment plan including financing that works for you.

What Orkin Does

Learn what to expect from your Orkin Pro and the AIM process.

Learn More

Signs of Termite Damage

Learn the early warning signs of termites and how to know if you have termites on your property.

Termite Mud Tubes

Explore what to do if you find mud tubes and when you should conduct a termite inspection.

Termite Droppings

Discover the signs of termites based on where droppings are found and what to do if you find termites in your house.

What are other signs of termite activity besides wood damage?

Stains on drywall, mud, and rippled or hollow wood can all be signs of termite activity.

What is the best time for termite treatment?

To best protect your home from termite damage, the best time for termite treatment is right now!

Are termites active during the winter?

Depending on your climate, termites can tunnel into the soil or remain active all year.

Termite Exit Holes

A common sign of a termite infestation, learn how to identify termite exit holes.

Do termites leave sawdust?

Familiarize yourself with common termite evidence and how to decipher sawdust from termite droppings.


Dig Deeper on Termites

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