7 Signs of Termites in Your Home

Signs of termites, damage inside a cabinet door
When termites enter your home, they make their presence known. (DepositPhotos)

Knowing the signs of termites can help you spot an infestation and prevent catastrophic damage to your home.

Drywood termites and subterranean termites each leave distinct signs of their presence, and collectively, they annually cause over $5 billion in property damage.

If you don’t want your home to become a statistic, study up on these signs!

Termites swarming around a lightbulb at midnight
If you see a sudden swarm of large-bodied insects around light bulbs, you’ve probably got termites. (DepositPhotos)

1. Swarms

Swarm termites, also known as flying termites, are clear signs of an infestation for drywood and subterranean termites.

Swarm termites are the reproductive males and females that leave the colony to find a new area to mate and establish a new colony. These termites typically leave the nest one or two times per year, and it’s usually during the spring or during the fall.

They are attracted to light and you may find them near light fixtures.

Termite wings on floor
If you see a pile of discarded wings on the floor, guess what? You’ve got termites! (DepositPhotos)

2. Discarded Wings

Discarded wings are evidence that swarm termites have selected a new place to colonize. Unfortunately for your home, first, they shed their wings as they no longer need to travel. Then, they shift their focus toward building the colony and mating.

Often located near entry points by doors, window ledges, vents or underneath the light from a lightbulb, piles of small wings are a telltale sign of termites.

Termite damage on wood floorboards
Damaged, sagging wood floors are signs of damage from drywood termites (DepositPhotos)

3. Headbanging

Drywood termites typically damage homes by creating sagging floors, walls and ceilings. They live deep within wooden structures and consume the framework of your house.

They make places they intrude appear to be water-damaged, and you’ll notice discolored or damp spots on the walls.

Sight isn’t the only way to spot termite damage — so is noise.

Headbanging, as the name suggests, is when termites bang their heads against wood or shake their bodies to signal danger to the colony to other termites.
The headbanging echoes as quiet clicking noises from the walls.

Termite droppings, also called frass, found in the nest
If you see black or beige pellets near a wood door or molding, they could be termite droppings, or frass. (DepositPhotos)

4. Frass

Frass, or termite droppings, is a clear sign of a termite infestation.

Drywood termites nest inside wood and, as they create tunnels, they also form holes to discard their droppings to keep the nest clean. Most frass are very small, no longer than one millimeter long.

These termite droppings look like pellets or wood shavings, similar to the appearance of sawdust.

You can find these pellets anywhere there is wood in the home.


  1. Great post on termite signs! Just want to add that it’s easy for homeowners to mistake some other wood boring pest species for signs of termites. The most usual suspects? Carpenter ants. Even woodworms can be mistaken for termites.
    And it’s best to know exactly what little critters are paving roads through your home before you start the process of getting rid of them!

  2. Question? Does pine straw in flower beds next to the house ‘draw’ termites…and is pine straw susceptible to being a
    place where termites live?

  3. Great article! We have subterranean termites here in N. Alabama. They like to eat sweet potatoes and can often be found in the harder stems of my vegetables too. They are a nuisance! My pest control service put bait stations in several areas of our garden and it seems to have helped. I assume this is safe to do?

    You mentioned “headbanging” and gave me a chuckle…
    Years ago I lived in an apartment at the beach in California. I heard the termites tapping in the wall (I thought it was their munching at the time) and notified the the owner of the premises. She informed me I was “Stupid, because termites don’t make noise.” Three months later every apartment in the building was swarming with termites. It was like something from a horror movie. The whole building had to be tented.

    • Hi, Lynda! Termite bite stations with a lockable cap are usually tamper-proof and people-and pet-safe.
      Sorry to hear that your old landlord was so abrupt with you—but yes, knowledge is power. 🙂

  4. I have a fairly new house, it has stone gravel that covers the entire space under the house. the gravel is covered by black plastic. There were 6 pieces of small wood that held the plastic in place. An inspector said that this be a termite problem. What are the chances?

    • Hi, Larry. This home inspector is correct.
      Wood that’s exposed to moisture can attract termites — unless you seal it with a product that can weather the elements.
      Happy home improving! 🙂


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