Signs of Termite Infestation in Your Home

rotten wood damage with termite and termite damage overlay pictures

Termites can cause significant damage to your home if not addressed. Identifying the signs of a termite infestation early on allows you to take immediate action and prevent further damage. This guide will provide you with a list of signs to look out for, including mud tubes, feces, and swarmers, to prevent termites from doing further damage to your home.

Signs of Termites in Your Home

Termites can invade different areas of your home, such as ceilings, baseboards, windowsills, and drywall. It is vital for homeowners to watch for warning signs of termite activity in these areas and promptly address the infestation, preventing further damage to your home.

Check around your home and other structures on your property for these signs to see if termites are dining on your doorstep:

Mud Tubes

shelter tubes Photo originally from the Wood Products Insect Lab in Gulfport, Mississippi.
Photo Credit: USDA Forest Service – Wood Products Insect Lab , USDA Forest Service, / Ipmimages

Inspect all walls, foundations, and sidewalks thoroughly for mud tubes. A termite mud tube is a structure that termites build using soil, wood particles, and other materials. 

These shelter tubes are protected pathways for soldier and worker termites to travel between their underground colonies and food sources above ground. Termite mud tubes are a common sign of subterranean or conehead termite activity.

Discarded Wings

wings fallen off termites
Photo Credit: jaranjen / Canva Pro / License

Termites lose their wings as a natural part of their life cycle after they swarm and locate their new home. Termite wing pieces frequently turn up next to windows, doors, or other areas where your home is accessible. These wings strongly indicate an active termite infestation and the potential risk to your property. 


termite droppings on a floor
Photo Credit: lisatop / Canva Pro / License

Termite feces, or frass, are small wood-colored pellets often found near termite entry points. These entry points can include windowsills, baseboards, or even the ground. Termite droppings can look different depending on the type of termite, but they generally resemble small cylindrical pellets.

Uneven or Bubbled Paint

water leak in the wall
Photo Credit: Cunaplus_M.Faba / Canva Pro / License

Signs of termites in wood may include bubbled, flaking, or uneven paint on walls and around windowsills. If you have wood paneling you may see faint pathways where the termites tunnel underneath the veneer. Termite galleries situated just below the surface could be the source of this issue. Termites in drywall do not eat gypsum, but they eat the outer cardboard covering without harming the paint.

Sagging Floors or Ceilings

lath ceiling or damaged wood from termite
Photo Credit: chaiyoot Wilipun / Canva Pro / License

Termites, wood rot, and moisture damage can contribute to this sagging. If you find decayed wood with tunnels filled with dried dirt, it is likely termite damage. If you see termites in the damaged wood, there is an ongoing infestation.

It is important to take immediate action and contact a termite professional to address a potential termite infestation in your home if you notice any of these signs.

Signs of termites in floors:

  • Warped or unlevel flooring
  • Squeaking or loose boards
  • Hollow-sounding wood
  • Discarded wings, frass, or mud tunnels

Signs of termites in ceilings:

  • Cracks in the ceiling
  • Sagging or drooping areas
  • Damage may look like light water damage
  • Presence of frass, mud tubes, or discarded wings

Banging or Clicking Sounds

While not very loud, termites do make noise. Clicking, rustling, and banging sounds may indicate a termite infestation in your home. The most common sound is headbanging, where soldiers thump their heads against the wall to summon more termites for defense or repairs.


Swarmer Termites
Photo Credit: Vinicius Rodrigues de Souza / Canva Pro / License

If you see swarmers or flying termites inside your home or other buildings, there is no doubt that you have a termite problem. Unless the colony responsible for their presence is properly treated, killing the swarmers will not resolve the issue. So, it’s essential to get in touch with a local exterminator to do a complete inspection.

Pro tip: Carpenter ants and other bugs can look like termites. But if the swarmers have wide bodies, straight antennae, and wings of equal length, it’s likely a termite problem, not an ant problem.

Places to Check for Termites 

Signs of termite damage can happen in various parts of a property because different termite species prefer different environments. If wet soil is nearby, wood that touches the ground is at risk of being infested.

Termites eat an organic fiber called cellulose, which is present in wood and plants. Their primary food source is wood, but they can also eat cardboard and paper. While some species of termites will infest live trees, they prefer decaying wood.

These are some of the areas to inspect for termites:

  • Buildings: Termites feed on wood and can weaken or destroy wooden support beams, floors, and other important structural components. Even a brick home typically has wood wall frames and studs.
  • Crawl spaces or attics: Termites are drawn to places with high moisture content. The high humidity found in attics and crawl spaces is ideal for termites to flourish.
  • Foundations or basements: Cracks in the foundation or gaps in the walls can allow termites in. The structural components of the building can be accessed directly from these areas.
  • Other structures: Wood decks and fences may retain moisture from rain, snow, or sprinklers, attracting termites. You can protect wooden structures with an oil-based or termite-repellent stain. For new construction, opt for termite-resistant wood to prevent future infestations and avoid the cost of repairing wood fencing.
  • Landscape: Termites are attracted to wood and can use live trees and bushes near your home as a pathway into the walls. To prevent this, regularly trim bushes, hedges, and tree branches and ensure that new trees and bushes are kept at least 3 feet away from your home.

Signs of Carpenter Ants vs. Termites

illustration showing termite and ant illustration
Photo Credit: Juan Rodriguez

Carpenter ants and termites both cause damage to wood, but they exhibit different behaviors and show different signs of infestation.

image showing termite damage and carpenter ant damage side by side
Photo Credits:
Termite Damage: frank600 / Canva Pro / License
Carpenter Ant Damage: John M. Chase / Canva Pro / License

Signs of Carpenter Ants:

  • Piles of sawdust near entry points
  • Presence of large ants (worker ants) in and around the property
  • Excavated tunnels for nests are smooth and sanded

Signs of Termites:

  • Hollowed-out or damaged wood with a maze-like pattern
  • Mud tubes on walls or foundations
  • Discarded wings near windows or doors
  • Clicking or banging sounds, known as headbanging, made by soldier termites

Types of Termites

picture showing dampwood, drywood and subterranean termites side by side
Photo Credits:
Dampwood termite: Judy Gallagher / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Drywood termite: Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University, / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 3.0
Subterranean termite: Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State University, / Wikipedia / CC BY-SA 3.0

More than 40 species of termites can be found in the United States out of the more than 3,000 species that exist worldwide. Before taking any action, it is imperative to have a specialist properly identify the termites because control and prevention strategies differ depending on the species.

In the U.S., subterranean, drywood, dampwood, and higher termite types are the most prevalent. For details on signs of these termites in your home, continue reading below.

Subterranean termites: These termites build mud tubes to access above-ground food supplies. They build their colonies underground, and they thrive in moist soil. In the U.S., subterranean termites are the group that does the most damage. Although these termites are found everywhere in the United States except Alaska, they are most common in the Southeast, California, and Hawaii.

Drywood termites: Termites that inhabit dry wood do not need to come into contact with soil. Most common in coastal areas, they can severely damage wooden structures by creating a maze of tunnels through them and leaving behind piles of frass. From North Carolina to California, these termites live along the coast or in other southern regions of these states.

Dampwood termites: These termites like damp settings and prefer to infest rotting timber, such as logs or stumps. Clogged or old gutters can cause water damage to your home and attract pests. You might notice some small holes, but no mud tubes. The Pacific and Nevada dampwood termites can be found along the Pacific Coast and into some of the western states.

Higher termites (coneheads): Mud tunnels on trees, fences, houses, or other structures are sure signs that you may be dealing with coneheads.Their nests can also be spotted in trees, plants, buildings, or on the ground.

FAQ: Signs of Termites

What are Signs of Termites in Concrete?

Although termites do not eat concrete or brick, they can utilize cracks or tunnels in these materials to access the wooden substructure of a building. Even small gaps, as narrow as 1/64 of an inch, can serve as termite entry points.

Signs of termite activity in concrete include:

  • Mud tubes or tunnels on the surface, which termites use to travel between their colony and the wooden structure.
  • Discarded wings near the concrete, indicating the emergence of termite swarmers and the establishment of a new colony nearby.

What is a Termite Mud Tube?

A termite mud tube is a structure built by termites using soil, wood particles, and other materials. These shelter tubes are protected pathways for worker termites to travel between their underground colonies and food sources above ground. Termite mud tubes are a common sign of subterranean and conehead termite activity.

What are Signs of Termites in Baseboards?

Signs of termites in baseboards can vary depending on the severity of the infestation. One common sign is the presence of small holes or tunnels in the wood, as termites create pathways to travel through. Additionally, you may notice hollow-sounding wood, frass, or bubbled paint on or around the baseboards, indicating that they have been weakened by termite activity.

When to Call a Professional

Being aware of the signs of a termite infestation empowers you to take action and protect your home. If you suspect a termite problem or want professional assistance, consider scheduling an in-depth termite inspection with a local pest control service. Remember, early intervention is vital to minimizing damage. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

Main Image Credit:
Background: bruceman / Canva Pro / License
Termites: Panupon_eur / Canva Pro / License
Termite Damage: KLH49 / Canva Pro / License

Editorial Contributors

  • Raven Wisdom

    Raven Wisdom


    Raven Wisdom is a writer with a passion for pest control, gardening, sustainable living, and making a positive impact in the world. When she's not defending her garden from critters in the wilds of West Texas, Raven can be found writing, wrangling two kids in a neurodivergent family, and supporting her local animal rescues.

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  • Sarah Bahr

    Sarah Bahr


    Sarah is a writer who has previously worked in the lawn care industry. In her spare time, she likes to garden, create mosquito traps out of five-gallon buckets, and use chickens for pest control in the backyard.

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