Call us for a free quote at 800-937-8398  or contact us

Signs of termites

Termites, also known as "white ants", aren’t out in the open. In the case of subterranean termites, they like an environment that is dark, humid and protected. Drywood termites get all the moisture they need from wood, so they are very happy in the rafters or attic of any structure, where it’s dry.

Both like to stay hidden, and both can cause considerable damage as they feast away unnoticed. Often they are not found until they have been enjoying years of uninterrupted chewing on the wood members of what could be your biggest investment. Recognizing the signs of termites early is key to reducing the damage. That’s why a termite inspection at least every 3 years is so important. There’s no substitute for a qualified and experienced termite expert performing a comprehensive termite inspection. Evidence that is hardly noticeable, and not easily seen by the untrained eye, can be obvious to an experienced termite expert.

If you've noticed some of the signs of termites, however, you should contact your local Western Exterminator office right away to prevent further damage. Use our online form to set up an appointment.

Termite damage

Termites do leave signs of their presence and often it’s their damage that is seen, rather than the actual termites.

Here are a few common signs of termites that you might see (or hear) around your home or business:

  • Papery or hollow sounding timber - When termites consume timber, they eat from the inside out leaving a thin veneer of timber or paint. When you knock or tap on an area that has termite damage, it will sound hollow or papery due to parts (or all) of the timber having been eaten away.

  • Your vacuum goes through the skirting board! - ...or your finger presses through a door jam or you accidentally poke a hole in a rafter or window sill while sanding the area to paint. These are some of the most common things we hear from customers as the first sign of termites. As termites have eaten away the structural integrity of the timber, such as a skirting board, door jam, eave or window sill, bumps or pressure against them will easily cause damage.

  • Tight fitting door or hard to open window - With subterranean  termites, as they devour timber, their excrement, or "mud", creates a protective environment that traps heat and moisture. This causes timber to swell, making it harder to open a window or close a door.

  • “Sand” or pellets show up in unexpected places - For drywood termites, one of the tell-tale signs is sand or small sand-like pellets that can appear in window sills, door jambs, or even on furniture. Unfortunately, they are sometimes just appear to be dirt and are cleaned up, the cause (drywood termites) not even though about.

  • Cracks in the cornice or door jams - As termites eat away the timber in your walls or door jams, it causes a loss in structural integrity and cracks form. Be careful jumping to conclusions, though; cracks could also be caused by movements in your home caused by the ground shifting and completely unrelated to termites.

  • Finding piles of wings near a light - Drywood termites swarm, often in the evening, when conditions are right and it becomes time for the colony to expand. Reproductives (alates) pair up and leave the colony to find a new location, quickly discarding their wings. Finding pairs of same-size wings near a light source, most notably near a window or glass door sill or even near a TV, can be a sign of a drywood termite infestation and cause for concern.

  • Termite mud - Subterranean termites construct ‘mud’ tunnels to provide themselves with a safe environment to travel to or protect their food sources. This mudding is often hard to see as it will be behind your sheet rock or underground, but can sometimes be seen in your home's brick foundations.

signs of termites

Termite noises

Most of the time termites go about their work quietly, which is how they are often not found until the damage is too great. However, there are sounds which some property owners can detect. For example, when termite soldiers feel their nest is threatened, they are known to bang their heads against the sides of the walls of the tunnels they’ve built. The vibrations alert the rest of the colony about the threat.

Worker termites can also make sounds which may be detected by those with sharp ears or termite specialists who know what to listen for. This includes buzzing and clicking sounds as they chew their way through the wood.

signs of termites

Have you seen these signs?

Contact your local Western Exterminator office to book a termite inspection.

If you do have termites, our experts will recommend the best treatment for your individual situation.

For complete peace of mind, our inspections include not only active infestations but also conditions present at your property that may be conducive to future infestations.

Next steps

Find a Western Exterminator near you

Type your zip code



Call your local branch


or fill out your details and we will call you back

Bill pay and login