Termite Inspections (Evidence the Pros Look For & YOU Can Find)


To do a proper termite inspection you need to understand the signs of termites and know how to spot them. Just understanding a few of the clues that termites leave behind can help you detect an infestation before it becomes a big problem in most case, but remember that for the most part termites are elusive insects that live with in the protective covering of the soil and wood structures.

This is why professional termite inspections are recommended at least annually and sometimes more frequently depending on how high the termite threat is in your area.

Annual Professional Termite Inspections

Before we get into the details of a do it yourself termite inspection, please understand that your ability to detect an infestation in your home will be far less than an professional termite inspector. Why is that? It has more to do with the tools a professional pest control personnel will have at their disposal as well as their training and experience.


Most professional pest control companies recommend getting an inspection done no less than annually and perhaps more if you live in an area that is very susceptible to termites.

Learn how to perform a termite inspection yourself—knowing these signs of termite infestations, can help you nip the problem in the bud

However, even though you should get an annual termite inspection completed by a pro, it sure doesn’t hurt to do your own mini termite inspection through out the year. A quick inspection once every 3 months is a good idea. If you discover an signs of termite while you are conducting your inspection then it is advisable to call an exterminator to conduct a more through inspection and recommend your next course of action to you.

First you will want to gather a few tools that will help you discover evidence of termites. If you have them handy a magnifying glass,a flash light, a screw driver, and a hammer will help you discover some tell tale signs of termite activity. So gather those up and then head outside.

Exterior Home Termite Inspection

First you want to inspect the exterior of your house for signs of termites because if you find them here then it can direct and focus your search on the inside of you home.

There are two basic types of termites within the US and around there world there are many different types of species. In the US there are generally drywood termites and subterranean termites. They both behave a bit differently and leave behind different clues of their presence.

Where ever you live in the world, before starting your inspection, do a little research via Google about the species of termites that live in your area. Learn what they look like and their basic lifestyle and habits.

Look For Termite Mud Tubes: The Easiest Sign of Termites to Find

If you live in an area that has subterranean (underground) termites then you should begin your termite inspection by examining the base or foundation of your house. Subterranean termites often enter a structure by coming in from the ground, constructing mud tubes from the ground to the foundation, and then entering the lumber or through a hole that gives them access to the lumber on the interior of your home. All it takes is a tiny hole, so if you see any obvious hole you should first check them for signs of termites and if none are detected patch the holes.

The mud tubes are a dead-give-away that termites are either attempting to enter your home or have already succeeded. These mud tubes are tunnels that the termites construct to protect them from sunlight and predator during their journey to the wood that makes up your house.

If you find these, try breaking off a piece and see if there are termites present. If there are termites you will want to see if the tunnels continue to a point that seems to enter the home. If you find no termites and the tunnels go into an access point that seems to have gone into the structure, then they may very well have already established an infestation in the structure.

Also be away that there are other types of insects and bugs that create similar mud tubes. There are many species of wasps that do this but they typically will not start from the ground and trail their way upward toward the top of the foundation. Wasp mud tubes generally look more like a clump of mud attached to the outside of your house.

Ever Find Winged Termites, or Winged Ants Around Your Home?

A second tell tale sign of termite activity on the outside of your house is termite swarmers. Termite swarmers are the adult termites that have sexually matured and have grow wings. They then take off in hopes of expanding their territory. If you find them around your home it is a good idea to call a professional termite inspector to see if they have found their way in somehow.

However the amount of time that they spend with their wings on is relatively small so the chances of you catching them at this phase is relatively small. What you may find though is their discarded wings. This is where a magnifying glass may come in handy.

If you find a large quantity of some type of wings, you can should keep a couple so that you can look them up via the internet to determine if they are indeed termite wings. Also, save some for the termite inspector to assess because, if you’re lucky, the termite professional may be able to detect exactly which species of termite entered your home solely from the wings.

Additional Termite Inspection Resources

  1. The Pitfalls of Termite Inspections – University of Nebraska Lincoln
  2. Termite Inspection Protocol – University of California Riverside Entomology Services
  3. How to Tell If You Have Termites – MyTermiteTreatmentCosts.com
  4. A Homebuyer’s Guide for the Wood-Destroying Insect Report (WDIR) – North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services

To do a proper termite inspection you need to understand the signs of termites and know how to spot them. Just understanding a few of the clues that termites leave behind can help you detect an infestation before it becomes a big problem in most case, but remember that for the most part termites are elusive insects that live with in the protective covering of the soil and wood structures.


7 thoughts on “Termite Inspections (Evidence the Pros Look For & YOU Can Find)”

  1. Thanks for sharing with us how to find termites on our own, or at least to find some signs of them. I can see that there are certain things I can keep an eye out for like termite frass, pinholes, and to keep an eye on any water damaged areas since they are prime feasting areas for termites. I’m thinking I’m going have a professional inspection done though to be on the safe side. Anyone have recommendations for who they use? I know it will depend from area to area but does anyone have any experience with the national brands like Terminex or Termidor?

    • Jill,

      Your best bet is to ask around your local community from friends, family, or neighbors for recommendations for local pest control companies. You may want to ask specifically for people who have hired termite control personnel in the past from your area. Try to get at least three quotes from separate companies if possible too otherwise, you will not know if you are getting a fair price or not. Hope that helps!

  2. John, thanks for writing this article. I love the site, it’s great that you are sharing so much termite information for home owners. I’m a pest control professional who specializes in termite control and would like to bring up an important issue I didn’t see covered in your article here.

    Every home owner should be aware of fraudulent termite inspections. People have run into this situation when they are going to purchase a home, most States (and I assume other countries) require a professional termite inspection and coinciding paperwork to prove that the sellers home is termite-free to the potential buyers. What some unsavoury home-sellers do is make a fake termite inspection report. Or, it is not the home-seller at all but a fraud pest control company.

    What I have seen happen is a fraudulent “pest company” or criminal uses the State sanctioned pest control license of a credible company and produces a fake termite inspection report and it goes without saying didn’t actually perform a real termite inspection. Sometime later the homeowner discovers evidence of termites in their home (often times frass or mud tubes) and understandably attempts to call back the “company” who performed the inspection to inquire how their new home has termite damage already. When the new home owner attempts to contact the “pest company” they get no response. When they check with or file a complaint with their State (or countries) pest control authority, and the pest authority intervenes, they discover someone else was using illegally using the pest control companies credentials and performing false inspections.

    I would recommend to your readers to make sure they are using an accredited pest control company to perform their inspection. A little digging around on the internet, reading some reviews, and a quick call to your State (or countries) pest control board can really save you a lot of time and money later. Ask neighbours, friends, or family for references as well or check AngiesList.com for reviews, it can really help you make an informed decision. Do not gamble on your home!

  3. It’s nice to know that there are subterranean termites which enter homes by coming from underground and most likely constructing mud tubes from the ground to the house. I think I need to hire a professional to take care of the rest because I already managed to find large mud tubes in my basement. I need to stop these termites before they destroy my home.

    • Hi Logan, it’s a great idea to have a professional inspect, then treat your home for termites. DIY route is only recommended for people who really have a handle on the risks involved. If you don’t get the whole termite colony exterminated, they can keep creating unseen damage. Go ahead and call a pro and don’t worry if it takes them a little while to get to your house for an inspection because termites are relatively slow in damaging your home. I would try to get it booked in the next month or two but if you can’t get an appointment in the next week, don’t fret. Good luck and come back and let us know how everything turns out.

  4. I’m glad that you talked about the importance of having an inspection early to prevent health problems. My uncle mentioned to me last night that they are planning to have a termite inspection in their basement and asked if I have any idea what is the best option to do. Thanks to this informative article and I’ll be sure to tell him that they can consult trusted pest control in town as they can answer all his inquiries and will provide good quality service.

    • John,

      I’m glad you found our article on termite inspections helpful and I hope the company you contact does a thorough inspection for signs of termite activity in your Uncle’s basement. Feel free to stop back here later on and share any tips or lessons learned from the experience.


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