SIGNS OF TERMITE INFESTATION
HOW TO INSPECT FOR TERMITE ACTIVITY
PICTURES OF HOME INSPECTIONS
AND WOOD DESTROYING INSECTS
SIGNS OF TERMITE INFESTATIONS
Some of the following is excerpted from the NPCA Field Guide to Structural
Pests, available through the NPCA(National Pest Control Association) Resource
The following list indicates common signs of a subterranean termite
infestation. It is recommended that you have your house thoroughly inspected
by a pest control professional trained to detect the sometimes subtle
signs of termites.
- The presence of mud-like material which lines the galleries in an
- Termites may excavate the wood so that only a very thin layer of
wood is left on the surface between the cavity and the outside. Then
this layer is broken, they will cover the holes with mud like material,
used to make the tubes. This is a mixture of soil, feces, and saliva.
- Swarmers: The appearance of a swarm of what you would call "flying
ants",especially near light sources This indicates a nest may be near.
A "swarm" is a group of adult male and female reproductives that leave
their nest to establish a new colony. Swarming occurs when a colony
reaches a certain size. Swarming is most common in the spring (March,
April, May, and June) and occasionally autumn (September and October).
Most swarmers emerge during the day, most frequently on warm days
after rain. Swarmers found outdoors near tree stumps, railroad ties,
etc., are not an indication that your house is infested, but are present
on the outside only. On the other hand, finding swarmers indoors often
means that you have an infestation within your house. At first glance,
swarmers and ants look similar, but can be distinguished by certain
between ants and termites there is a picture and list of differences.
- Mud Tunnels: Subterranean termites maintain their headquarters in
the ground and build "mud tubes", pencil-size, that connect the nest
(moisture) to the food source (wood).The tunnels may contain broken
mud particles with fecal materials. Mud tubes or shelter tubes are proof
of termite infestation, but their absence does not necessarily mean
that a structure is free of termites. The insects may reach sills and
other wood members through cracks or voids in the foundation wall, under
the outside stucco, or from earth-filled porches, steps, terraces, or
patios. You can break open tubes to determine if termites are still
active inside. Termites often rebuild damaged tubes, another indication
of continued activity. Old tubes are dry and will crumble easily.
Subterranean termites construct four types of tubes or tunnels.
Working tubes (left) are constructed from nests in the soil to wooden
structures; they may travel up concrete or stone foundations.
Exploratory and migratory tubes (center) arise from the soil but
do not connect to wood structures. Drop tubes (right) extend from
wooden structures back to the soil.
on image to enlarge
Regents of the University of California ©
Exploratory and migratory tubes (center) arise from the
soil but do not connect to wood structures. Drop tubes (right)
extend from wooden structures back to the soil.
- Piles of wings: The shed wings of swarmers indicate termites have
entered their next phase of development.
- Live termites: Reproductive kings and queens are 1/2" long, winged
and black or brown in color. Workers are sterile and usually hidden
within infested wood. They are 1/4" long, wingless and white. However,
the absence of finding live termites does not mean that they are not
present in the structure.
- Buckling paint or tiny holes on wood.
- Damaged wood: Wood may appear crushed at structural bearing points.
Termite damaged wood resonates with a dull thud (hollow sound)when tapped
with a hammer. Pick and probe the surface of an infested piece of wood
with a pen knife and you will find tunnels running parallel to the wood's
Finding termites in a structure does not mean you have an immediate
emergency because the rate at which damage occurs is relatively slow.
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INSPECTION FOR SUBTERREANEAN
Needed a good flashlight , screwdriver or pocketknife and coveralls.
You will need to look at possible trouble spots closely. Often this
means crawling in crawl spaces. The presense of swarmers or their shed
wings almost always indicates termite activity. A complete inspection
would mean locating exposed shelter tubes and damaged wood.
Generally speaking, Subterreanean termites are found at or near ground
level.However, in warmer areas of the country they occasionally occur
above the first floor level.
Termite damage may be located by probing wood with a screwdriver, ice
pick or knife. Inspection should be concerned with the exterior and interior
surfaces of the foundation, particularly construction where wood is on
or near the soil.
Start inspection in the basement and use a bright flashlight. Look for
mud tubes and the activity of swarmers.
If necessary, get help from a professional pest control operator .
You should inspect in the following areas as well:
- Any wood construction in basement and crawl space (if present).
- All sills, sub floors,joists, support posts, supporting piers, basement
window frames, wood under porches.
- Pay close attention to places where concrete: steps, porches, or slabs
join the wooden structure.
- All the hollow blocks, cracks in cement or brick construction and
- Any scrap wood on the exterior, old tree stumps, fence posts and exterior
frames of basement windows.
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