How to tell if termites are active in your house

How to tell if termites are active in your house

Nobody likes to think there might be termites in their home doing untold amounts of damage that could end up costing thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars.

If you’re concerned at potential signs of termites making their way into your home (or that they might already be there) we’ve put together this extensive list of things we’ve seen over the last several years of going into thousands of Brisbane homes and inspecting them for termite activity to help you correctly identify termites and potential termite damage in your home.

Before we jump into the signs of termite activity, it’s worth outlining exactly what a termite is and is not. Many people mistake other insects (certain breeds of ants, for example) for termites and cause themselves unnecessary grief.

What’s the difference between termites and other insects like ants?

Termites themselves are actually quite small and have some similarities to ants (hence why they sometimes get confused for ants) but there are also some distinct differences between these two species of insects that will help you to correctly identify if you have an ant problem, or a more serious termite infestation.

What do termites look like?

Termites don’t tend to like sunlight that much and tend to spend much of their time underground. Because they’re out of direct sunlight for most of their lives they tend to have a light white/cream colour to their bodies. Depending on the light, they can also look a little translucent or see through.

Below are a couple of distinct characteristics of termites:-

  • Termites will have a straight antennae
  • Termites will have a thick, straight waist
  • Termites will shed their wings at certain times
What do ants look like?

We’re all pretty familiar with what ants look like, but as there are many different types of ants (and flying ants) sometimes it’s understandable that people get ants and termites mixed up. Ants will have a darker colour than termites and also have some characteristics of their own:-

  • Ants will have a bent antennae
  • Ants have a pinched waist
  • Flying ants don’t shed their wings
  • They have three sections to their bodies – the head, the thorax and the gaster

What do termites eat?

Wood, wood and more wood. Technically termites are going after the Cellulose fibers found in organic matter like wood, paper and different types of plants and they will chew their way through this food source that’s typically ignored by other insects and animals.

Termite mud lead in brisbane

What are some signs that termites are in or around my home?

There’s a wide range of signs you can look for around your home and yard to ensure you’re not being silently invaded. Let’s work our way from the outside of your home to the inside. That way you can check most areas of your home if you have concerns.

Note: Remember, if you’re worried about termites or see signs of termites around your home, it’s wise to call a professional like us to inspect and treat your home.

Look for signs before the insect

It’s quite possible you’re likely to see termite signs before you see any actual termites, unless you happen to see flying termites around your yard or home. Sometimes flying termites will swarm and this can happen during the day or night. If you happen to see a large swarm of flying termites around your home or are seeing wings discarded in or around your home, that’s a sure fire sign you may have a problem with termites (if not now then possibly in the future).

Here are some other signs that you may have termites in your home.

temite damage thin papery wallsThin, papery or hollow sounding wood

If you have walls or sections of your home that should be solid and sound hollow when tapped, this could be because termites have eaten away at the wood. Because termites usually eat wood from the inside out they can sometimes leave a thin layer of wood on the exterior of a beam, noggin, skirting board or wall.

Often our Brisbane termite inspection customers will call us distressed as they’ve just put their finger (or sometimes a hand or shoulder) through the wall or the vacuum cleaner managed to take out a big chunk of a skirting board.

Note - it’s a good idea to go around your home every couple of months and have a tap on walls, skirting boards and other wooden areas to make sure they sound solid. If they sound hollow please call us on 1300 057 067 to organise a professional inspection.

Termites make mud tunnels

Termites don’t like sunlight. This being the case they make little tunnels made of mud to get from the outside to the inside of your home. If you see these tunnels around your home this is usually a sign that termites are starting to establish a colony in your home and a professional inspection is recommended ASAP.

Termites make noise

If a customer calls us telling us they’re hearing a strange noise in their home, it’s usually something they hear in the dead of night and say it sounds like a munching/tapping sound coming from inside the walls.

If you’ve been wondering how to determine if you have termites and see any of the signs we’ve listed above in or around your home it’s a good idea to call us on 1300 057 067 to organise a termite inspection and possibly a termite treatment if we find anything.


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Abolish Termite & Pest Management
Unit 4 / 54 Paisley Drive
Lawnton QLD 4501
Phone: 1300 057 067