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How to Recognize Signs of Termites in Your Home


Keeping your home free and clear of pests is an ongoing challenge. You do all you can, keeping watch for the telltale signs. You know what to do if you see ants in the kitchen or a mouse in your living room. (After you freak out, you call us, of course.)

But what if you can’t see the problem? It’s tough to fight a battle when you can’t see the enemy and few adversaries are as stealthy and destructive as termites. These silent invaders can wreak havoc on the structural integrity of your home. And all too often you won’t realize it until the significant damage is done. 

Each year, approximately 600,000 homes across the United States suffer termite damage to the tune of nearly $5 billion to eradicate these pests and repair the damage.

So, what can you do? Be as proactive as possible. By knowing what to look for and inspecting your home regularly you’ll be well on your way to keeping your home termite-free. 

Understanding the Enemy: An Overview

Before we list the signs of a termite infestation, it’s important to understand how they operate. Like ants, termites are social creatures who live in colonies with populations from the thousands to the millions. The two common types of termites found in homes are drywood termites and subterranean termites. Drywood termites nest inside wood, feeding on the cellulose. In nature, this is convenient since they help break down dead plant material. In your home, this is not ideal. Subterranean termites tunnel into the ground – and your home – through a network of mud tubes. Food, moisture and warmth are essential to their survival, so termites will seek these conditions wherever they can find them, including in your home.

A Telltale Trail of Evidence: Recognizing Signs of Infestation

Visible Termite Swarmers

One of the most straightforward signs of a termite infestation is the emergence of swarmers, also known as alates. These are the reproductive termites that are equipped with wings. They are often seen swarming around windows, doors, or light sources, especially during the spring season.

Discarded Wings

After a termite swarm, discarded wings may be found near entry points such as doors, windowsills, or cobwebs. The swarmers shed their wings as they establish new colonies, making this a clear indication of termite activity.

Mud Tubes

Subterranean termites construct mud tubes, also known as shelter tubes, to provide moisture and protection as they travel between their underground nests and sources of food. These tubes can be as thin as a pencil. When you know what to look for, you may notice these tubes along the foundation of your home or on exterior walls.

Damaged or Hollow-Sounding Wood

As termites feed on the cellulose within wooden structures they hollow out the interior, leaving behind a thin veneer of wood or paint. You may observe visible damage like buckling. Even if you don’t see anything, check to see if the wood sounds hollow by tapping on the areas where you suspect an infestation.

Termite Droppings (Frass)

If drywood termites are in your home, you may see their excrement in the form of tiny fecal pellets, also known as frass, which resembles sawdust or sand. Frass will usually accumulate near wooden furniture, baseboards, or window sills.

Clicking Sounds

No, you’re not hearing things. In some cases, you might hear the faint clicking sounds of termites from walls or within wooden structures. This is the sound produced by soldier termites as a warning to the colony.

Don’t Sleep on this Hidden Threat

Early detection is the best defense in the fight against a termite infestation. Take periodic walks around and throughout your home to look for the potential signs outlined in this article. If you notice anything, contact us right away and we’ll do a comprehensive inspection. When it comes to termites, the old adage holds true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

To learn even more about termite control strategies and preventive measures, visit the page dedicated to termites in our pest library.

Real-Life Encounters with Termites

The Swanson Family – Sawdust in the Attic

The Swansons noticed what looked like sawdust in their attic, which they found odd since no one was working on any projects in that area of their home. After a quick Google search listed this as a sign of a possible termite situation, the Swansons contacted Moyer for an inspection. Thanks to the early intervention, we confirmed the infestation and dealt with it quickly and completely, saving this family and thousands of dollars in potential repairs.

The Baumgardners – Vigilance Pays Off

“We never imagined that termites could be lurking within our walls until we discovered discarded wings near our front door. Thanks to the experts at Moyer Pest, our home is now termite-free and protected against a repeat infestation.” 

  • Jerry and Melanie Baumgardner

Frequently Asked Questions About Termite Control

Knowledge is power and with termites, knowing what to look for is the place to start. 

Q: How often should I inspect my home for termites?

A: It’s recommended to inspect your home for termites at least once a year. However, if you live in areas with a high termite risk or have had previous infestations, more frequent inspections might be necessary.

Q: Are termite control chemicals safe for my family and pets?

A: Professional termite control services use chemicals that are safe for both humans and pets when applied correctly. It’s important to choose a reputable pest control service that adheres to safety standards.

Q: What are the first signs of a termite infestation?

A: Early signs include mud tubes on exterior walls, hollow-sounding wood, and discarded termite wings near doors or windows. Noticing these signs early can help prevent more severe damage.

Q: How long does it take for termites to cause significant damage?

A: The rate of damage depends on the size of the colony and the type of termite. Subterranean termites can cause significant damage within a year, while drywood termites may take several years to cause noticeable harm.

Q: Can termites be completely eradicated from a home?

A: Yes, with professional treatment, termites can be completely eradicated from a home. However, ongoing monitoring and preventive measures are crucial to prevent future infestations.

Q: Can termites spread from one house to another?

A: Yes, termites can spread between houses, especially in close-knit neighborhoods or where houses are in close proximity to each other.

Q: Are there any natural or eco-friendly options for termite control?

A: Some eco-friendly options, such as baiting systems and certain biological treatments, can be effective. Discuss these options with your pest control provider to determine the best approach for your situation.


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