Do Termites Make Noise?

group of termites making noise

Are you hearing subtle, faint crunching sounds coming from walls or wooden structures in your home? They might be ghosts, but most likely, they are just termites (which isn’t good either). But do termites make noise? Surprisingly, yes, termites make noise as they munch on wood or signal to other termites. When a large infestation takes over, they can even be heard by the human ear. 

Read our article to learn more about the surprising noises termites make.

Do Termites Make Noise in Walls?

Yes, termites do make noise in walls. The sounds they produce come mainly from two behaviors:

  • Head-banging: Termite soldiers communicate with each other through a behavior called “head-banging.” When termites notice danger or a breach in their colony walls, soldiers will hit their heads on the walls to produce vibrations and, consequently, warn other termites. No, they’re not doing it as they listen to heavy metal, unfortunately.
  • Chewing: When eating wood, termites will produce munching sounds. 

What Noises Do Termites Make?

closeup of termites nest and termites damage
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Termites produce two distinct noises that result from the behaviors mentioned above:

  • Head-banging produces a rattling or clicking noise and is the loudest sound termites can produce, but yet is not easily noticeable by the human ear. They produce a drumming pattern by banging their heads fast, 3 to 4 times at once (in triplets or quadruplets). 
  • Chewing sounds, on the other hand, are a muffled crackling, crunching noise. Some describe it as a faint papery rustling that is barely noticeable unless the room is completely silent.

A curious note: If you’d like to listen, the Acoustical Society of America has snippets of both of these sounds. If you are into heavy metal (as termites are, apparently), you’ll notice the drumming pattern termites make in video five resembles the drum track from one of Swedish metal band Meshuggah’s most popular songs. 

What noises don’t termites make? Termites don’t sound like dripping water, and if you hear such noise, you might have a problem with a water pipe. Termites also don’t sound like mice, as these rodents produce characteristic scratching, gnawing, and squeaky noises. 

Want to learn how to distinguish termites from other bugs? Read our article on bugs that look like termites to determine whether you’re dealing with a termite infestation or something else.

Can You Hear Termites?

soldier termites exhibiting acoustic waves
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Yes, you can hear termites. But since most termite noises are faint, they are most noticeable at night when the rest of the home is silent. You’ll be able to hear a soft tapping or clicking sound from inside the walls when termites are moving and eating wood if you place your ear very close to the wall. 

But if these chewing sounds are hardly noticeable, how else can you identify termites? Here’s a pro tip: Tap on the wood of door frames, walls, or furniture you suspect are infested. If you hear a hollow sound, you might be dealing with a termite infestation.

Other tell-tale signs of a termite infestation in your home are:

  • Termite frass (or termite droppings), which looks like small piles of sawdust 
  • Mud tubes up the foundation of your home or building
  • Bubbles on walls or peeling paint

FAQ About Termite Noises

Can Termites Hear?

Termites cannot hear airborne sounds. But they can sense vibrations through receptors on their legs. 

How Do Termites Communicate?

Termites communicate through vibrations, physical contact, and chemical signs, mainly. When a soldier hits its head on the tunnel walls, other termites can sense the vibration. Additionally, they also have zig-zag, horizontal movements that communicate alarm when a termite bumps into another. 

When alarmed, termites also produce a scent trail (a chemical sign made from pheromones) that indicates where the disturbance is, and other alarmed termites will follow.

Do Termites Make Buzzing Noises?

Yes, flying termites can produce buzzing sounds. This is more common during termite mating season. Swarmer termites have wings and will leave their colony to mate and establish new ones. During this period, you can hear the buzzing sounds produced by the flying termites flapping their wings in search of the perfect place to make a new termite nest

When to Call a Pro

Have you noticed any signs of a termite infestation in your home? Termites are challenging pests to control, but you don’t need to fight them alone. Pest Gnome connects you to the best termite experts in your area. Get in touch today and get rid of the termites making noise in your walls.

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Teresa Joaquim

Teresa is a creative writer who holds a Master's degree in Psychology. Despite being a nature lover, she is terrified of cockroaches. As a native of the tropics, she is used to dealing with mosquitoes, although they still manage to bother her. Her favorite things are art, music, and playing with her two cats.