What Are Some Common Signs of Termite Activity?

Here on the East Coast, subterranean termites are common and live in underground colonies throughout the region. Some of these colonies are deep underground and go unnoticed until warm weather arrives and launches a flurry of termite mating activity.

As the season gets underway, termites tunnel up, eating through soil and straight into wood, bricks and sheetrock.

Without intervention, they are capable of causing thousands of dollars of damage and could even render your home unlivable. It’s important to have your home and land inspected and to take action if termites are present.

Looking for the Intruders

Termites can cause obvious red flags, but they aren’t always noticeable to the untrained eye.

A thorough inspection will determine if termites are living nearby and preparing to make a meal out of your home.

You or a pest control expert can start by looking for the most overt signs of a termite infestation:

  • Swarms: Swarming groups of male and female winged termites known as alates will leave the colony to mate in a sudden swarm of frenzied termites. These bursts of activity usually occur on warm days and last less than an hour during daylight in March, April and May. In the worst cases, indoor swarming may occur and is an almost sure-fire sign of a termite infestation.
  • Mud Tubes: Mud Tubes and mud protruding from cracks in wooden structures usually indicate the presence of termites. Ranging from 1/4 to one inch wide, termites build these pathways from dirt and water to protect themselves from air and predators while they seek out wood to consume. Breaking the tubes can determine if they are active; if termites are around, they will rebuild them.
  • Wood Damage: Wood damage caused by termites consists of honeycombed paths through wood which aren’t necessarily obvious to the naked eye. These paths eventually leave the wood hollowed out and weakened and may be detected by probing.

Where to Look for Termites: Termite Detection Essentials

Inspecting your home for termites involves a thorough tour inside and out to look for potential entry points.

The presence of mud tubes or mud protruding from cracks may indicate the past or current presence of termites.

You can determine if they are active by breaking the tubes and then monitoring to see if they are rebuilt or if new ones arise.

Indoor Termite Detection

Your house provides many hiding spots for termites that can be uncovered if you know what to look for — mud tubes, drop tubes (tubes that drop from wood structures towards the ground), piles of wings from termite swarmers, damaged or hollow wood, buckling paint and of course, actual live termites.

  • Keep an eye out for termite wings on windowsills or near glass doors. Termites swarm when the colony gets large, and reproductives head off to start anew. Once they breed, they lose their wings and settle in.
  • Check the basement or heater room, which homeowners sometimes miss. These areas can be damp, which can attract and then maintain termite populations.
  • Look for mud tubes along walls, which function as termite highways.

Common Termite Locations:

  • Basements and Sub-Floors
  • Foundation walls
  • Sills
  • Headers, joists and subflooring
  • Chimney bases
  • Pipes and ductwork
  • Floor drains and plumbing areas of bathrooms
  • Hot water heaters and washer/dryer areas
  • Settlement cracks in basement floors

Outdoor termite detection

  • Look around and in your mulch, where termites may hide.  It is a good idea to probe around mulch, digging down into the mulch bed since termites will not always be close to the surface.
  • Keep an eye out for termites whenever you’re in the garden or planting.
  • Familiarize yourself with the appearance of termite swarms.

Exterior Termite Entry Points
Termites gain access to homes in several ways, typically through cracks, gaps, joints, windowsills and entrances.

Start by checking the entire foundation and paying extra attention to areas where wood and earth meet, as well as checking:

  • Exterior siding – especially if it extends close to the ground
  • Dirt-filled porches and wood decks
  • Expansion joints
  • Cracks and voids in foundations
  • Cellar or crawlspace doors
  • Windowsills and doors
  • Planter boxes
  • Fences, especially where they connect to the house
  • Interior Termite Habitats

Dirt-filled Porches
Dirt-filled porches are often a termite’s hottest area. With a dirt-filled porch, the foundation doesn’t connect with the porch. Instead the porch is surrounded by a concrete wall with soil beneath.

This is where termites find their advantage. It’s not uncommon for the dirt in this area to be moist – attracting termites right to the home.

Prevention & Removal

Contact the Professionals
Western makes it a point to inspect these areas on every termite call, also digging under mulch, lifting rocks, clearing the garage, and seeking out every potential termite entry point.

Even the most conscientious termite prevention approach can be impacted by local termite infestation patterns – and you can’t always control what your neighbors may do to attract pests.

Learn more about Western’s comprehensive Home Pest Control Plans.

Call for service: (800) 768-6109