DIY Termite Control: How to Check for Termites

Hiring professional termite control services is often a good idea as they can be of great help when it comes to preventing and treating termite infestations. However, they can also be quite pricey sometimes.

Whether to save money, to determine whether you need to call professionals, or simply for prevention, knowing how to check for termites on your own is often beneficial. There are plenty of signs of termites to look for, some harder to notice than others, but a termite nest can often be incredibly hard to discover or even just to be learned about. So, to help you out with your DIY termite control, let’s go over the main evidence of termites you should be on the lookout for.

What should you look for when checking for termites?

There is one main thing to look for when checking for termites and that’s the damage and wreckage they leave behind them. That’s, after all, the main reason you need to get rid of them in the first place. Termites are known for being able to chew through any wooden structures in preposterously short amounts of time. Such termite damage has been well documented by a lot of scientific sources such as the University of Kentucky’s Entomology Department. Some of the main types of damage to look out for during your inspection include:

  • Large termite holes, cracks, and chewed off pieces of the wooden components in your home’s walls, floors, ceilings or foundation.
    termite damage in the home


  • Sagging and blistering of your floors and ceilings.
  • The peeling and bubbling of the paint on your wall.
  • The baseboards in your home are weak and crumble easily under pressure.
  • There are tiny pinholes in the wooden surfaces in your home. These are the exit holes of a termite colony.
  • There is a hollow sound that comes out when you tap your walls.
  • If you’re wondering can you hear termites – yes, you can. Listen for a dry rattle or a papery rustling inside the walls, especially if they are dry. These are the sounds of termites gnawing through dry wood. Use a glass cup or another handy item that would magnify the sounds.

Unfortunately, the presence of either of these signs usually means not only that you have termites in your home but also that they are already getting out of hand. Nevertheless, better late then never is a maxim that’s true even for termites.

Inside your home isn’t the only place to look for termites, however – you’d do well to check your home’s outdoor surrounding’s as well. Termites don’t settle into a home just by swarming into it, they most often enter by expanding their outdoor colonies into it. So:

  • Look for termite mounds in or around your property. Not all termites form mounds above ground but if you find one you can be certain that there is a large colony underneath it. Such a colony can quickly expand underground and reach your house or other nearby structures so immediate action is strongly advisable.
  • Look carefully for termite mud tubes. These enclosed above-ground tunnels made out of soil, wood and termite saliva are what termites build when they want to travel above the ground level. They do this both to reach certain food sources, as well as to connect different parts of their colony when there is no underground connection.
    termite mud tube

    You Touch Pix of EuToch /

  • Use underground termite detection devices such as termite bait stakes to determine whether you have termites in the soil around your home. Such baits are typically stuck in the ground where the termites can notice them. The negative of such a method is that you can attract termites to your property through it but these baits can also be used as control tools that poison entire termite colonies at once.

What equipment should you use to check for termites?

When hunting for insect pests, being well-equipped is usually very important. There are lots of pests that are outright dangerous to our health but fortunately, termites are not one of those cases. The only termites that can potentially cause any noticeable pain to humans are the termite soldiers who can bite, but even their bites are essentially harmless.

So, as far as “termite protection equipment” is concerned, there isn’t too much that you need to do. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any equipment you should use, however. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Flashlight. Especially when looking behind furniture and baseboards, in the attic or the basement/crawlspace, it’s important to make sure that you have the best possible visibility. Termite exit holes, as well as termite excrements/droppings and shed termite wings are all quite tiny and hard to notice. At the same time, they are also the first signs of a termite infestation to look for, so you don’t want to miss them.
  2. Rubber gloves and protective goggles. These aren’t meant for protection against the termites themselves but mostly for general physical protection when moving furniture, lifting baseboards, etc. The sad fact of the matter is that termites tend to leave a wake of devastation behind them and that usually involves a lot of wood splinters, dust, sawdust, and other small particles that can get in your eyes or get stuck in your hands.
  3. Any tools that can help you detect the sounds of termites gnawing through the wood. These can range from simple glasses to commercial acoustic emission devices.
  4. Termite detection stake kits for outdoors detection. The outdoor surroundings of your home are your home’s buffer to the outside world so it’s best to detect those pests while they are still only there.
  5. Commercial electronic odor detectors. These devices are meant to detect the presence of methane gas around them which can be useful as termites produce methane. It isn’t usually noticeable by the human sense of smell, at least in the beginning, and it also isn’t a conclusive sign for termites as methane can have other causes. Still, it’s nice to to have at your disposal.


Termites are something every homeowner should be wary about, and professional termite inspection services can be quite expensive sometimes. All this makes DIY termite control and inspections very important for homeowners if you want to keep your home and property termite-free. Remember to check both indoors and outdoors at least once per year – preferably more often. And remember to be thorough as well – missing even one termite mud tube or one small cluster of termite pinholes can spell devastation for your entire house.

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