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How do I Know if I Have Termites?

Jessica Ellis
Updated May 16, 2024
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Termites are an insect species known for feeding on wood and plant matter. Unfortunately, a termite infestation can cause extreme damage to buildings if not treated quickly. Termites do leave a variety of signs of their presence, and with diligent inspections you may be able to tell if you have an infestation and catch it before too much damage is done.

To check for a termite problem, you will need a flashlight or good light source, and be prepared to get into enclosed spaces under your home or between the ceiling and attic. There are also many companies that will do a professional inspection for you, but you may want to check yourself first. If you find signs of termites and the inspector misses them, you may want to contact a different agency.

One of the best signs of a termite problem is the presence of mud tubes. Check the exterior and basement of your home with a flashlight. A mud tube connects nests to feeding sites, will be constructed of dirt and about the width of a pencil. If you find these tunnels, it is likely you have an infestation.

Wood damage can be an identifying sign of a termite infestation. If you find or break open a piece of wood and find it honeycombed or carved out, the damage was likely caused by termites. Even if you only find signs of termite wood damage in nearby trees or wood piles, they may have infested any dwellings close by, including your home.

Termites can fly and tend to swarm, particularly prior to rainstorms. If you see a termite swarm, experts recommend contacting a professional extermination service immediately. After swarms, piles of wings and feces may be left on the ground. Any evidence of live termites should be treated as a potential infestation and dealt with at once.

Holes or buckles in painted walls or tiny holes in wood can be an indication of the insects. While termites usually eat wood from the inside out, burrowing holes can be made. If you are seeing these signs, you will likely find additional evidence of an infestation.

The danger of termite damage can be severe if the infestation is not eliminated. If your home is built with a large amount of wood, structural features can become weakened by termites, particularly in weight-bearing joints. Damage to the structure of a home can seriously raise the risks of collapses and can increase the likelihood of associated structural problems.

To catch early signs of termite problems, do a once-a-month check of house exteriors, door frames, nearby trees and basement or crawl-space areas. Some experts recommend keeping mulch and wood piles far away from the exterior of your house. While monthly checks may seem tedious and strenuous, it may save you thousands of dollars in extermination and home repair fees.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Jessica Ellis
By Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis brings a unique perspective to her work as a writer for HomeQuestionsAnswered. While passionate about drama and film, Jessica enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics, creating content that is both informative and engaging for readers.
Discussion Comments
By anon338017 — On Jun 10, 2013

I bought a new door few months ago. It has a copper type material outside, but inside the door, I do not know. I saw some hard looking sand type patches on the door. Is it a kind of termite?

By anon319409 — On Feb 12, 2013

Four years ago, my parents bought new wooden cabinets and granite table counter with a wooden base for the kitchen. About six months ago, we found small pieces of oval-shaped, light yellow sawdust falling from the cabinets and the corners of the table counter, all piling up within hours each day.

We have never seen a termite before and it's difficult to spot any holes in the cabinets, but we can feel a rough surface on where we suspect the dust to be falling from. Could this be termites?

By anon110660 — On Sep 12, 2010

We have found saw dust accumulation in our daughter's closet which we have to clean out a couple of times each summer, there also appears to be small black specks in it, like small mouse poop. Any ideas?

By anon110325 — On Sep 11, 2010

We've noticed black specks in the corner on the floor of our garage left front corner where it opens. There's a pile. not sure what it is.

By anon76310 — On Apr 09, 2010

I've had a small scattered dust pile on the floor in my sun room for the past three years. It almost looks like small piles of fly poop. Could this possibly be termites and why hasn't the problem spread?

By anon74974 — On Apr 05, 2010

It's drywood termites. Get your house fumigated.

By anon42114 — On Aug 19, 2009

I found what looked like little piles of sand on my son's bed. i wiped it off and the next morning it was there again. i looked up and noticed a very small hole in the ceiling where the sand was slowly falling from. What is it?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis
With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica Ellis...
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