How To Identify Subterranean Termite Damage

Subterranean termites are among the most destructive pests in the world. These tiny insects can cause significant damage to your home’s structure, and infestations must be taken care of quickly to avoid even more costly repairs.

Termite control and treatment options vary depending on the extent of the infestation. Still, professional pest control companies have several effective treatments to ensure your home is free from these unwanted pests.

Subterranean termites are commonly found in South Florida and elsewhere in the southern United States. They live underground and feed on the cellulose in wood, which can be challenging to detect. To ensure that your home is protected from these pests, it’s essential to know what signs to look for when you suspect subterranean termite damage. 

What are subterranean termites?


Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite in the United States. They are subterranean because they live below ground in the soil. They obtain their moisture from the soil, and feed on dead plants or wood. Subterranean termites can destroy wood framing in homes and other structures, causing thousands of dollars’ worth of damage.

They’re insects that live in the soil but come up to feed on wood. They’re attracted to moisture, and they can slowly damage the wood over a long time. They’re often called “mud” or “shelter” termites because they’ll protect themselves in mud tubes, hollow logs, or other underground spaces.

Subterranean termites are also known as “white-footed” because they produce a white substance (exudate) visible on their bodies or wings. This exudate has been hypothesized to have a chemical function that suppresses the growth of molds in their environment. Still, recent research suggests that it is primarily used for colony-mate recognition.  

What are the signs of presence of subterranean termites?

1) Swarmers

Close-up of swarming Southeastern Subterranean Termites


A swarm is the best-known sign of a subterranean termite infestation. When weather conditions are warm, termites leave their colony looking for a new home at night. This can sometimes happen during the day instead of at night. The swarm usually consists of winged termites, but some swarms contain wingless ones.

The subterranean termite queen starts a new colony each spring when she leaves her nest site, accompanied by about 3,000 workers (termites) and several hundred winged reproductive males and females. The swarmers are attracted to lights and may be seen on porches and patios at night during warm months (especially May and June), searching for a suitable nest site.

 2) Mud tubes in foundation walls or floors

Mud tubes - termites

Mud tubes are another sign that subterranean termites are in your home. These tubes connect the soil with your home’s foundation or wooden supports like decks and porches. You can find mud tubes within 6 inches of the ground on your home’s exterior walls, floors, or foundations. These tubes allow the termites to move freely between their nest and your home, making it easy for them to do damage.



You may find piles of termite wings around your home. These are the shed wings of adult termites as they emerge from the colony to mate. You may also notice swarmers and their shed wings in places such as windowsills, sinks, and light fixtures. Swarmers are white insects with two pincer-like projections at the end of their abdomen (referred to as “wings” by most homeowners). Termite swarmers are attracted to light, so be sure to check window sills, under potted plants, etc., frequently.


Termite droppings are the most common evidence of their presence and are often referred to as “frass.” Formosan termite’s frass is very distinctive from subterranean termite frass. Subterranean termite frass is uniform in size, color, and texture. It looks like tiny pellets or spheres and is brown to tan in color. Formosan termite frass is coarse and dark, resembling finely ground pepper.

Sometimes dry wood termites will leave similar-looking but more enormous piles of fecal pellets near their galleries. These pellets are brown and have a shiny appearance. Drywood termites do not eat structural wood-like subterranean termites do. The droppings left by dry wood termites are much larger than those left by subterranean termites.


Hollow Wood Termites

A hollow sound to wood that should resonate when tapped signifies a termite infestation. Termites eat the wood and leave behind tunnels that look like paper. As the wood decays, it becomes hollow and fragile. The easiest way to identify a termite infestation is by tapping on any wooden objects in your home. If you hear an open sound when you tap, it could indicate termite activity.  


6) Strange wall sounds

Termites eat through wood, which means everything you build is at risk of being eaten away by the pests. Termites can make strange noises as they chew their way through the wood in your walls. When they’re gnawing away, they tend to make clicking sounds. While they move around, they tend to make tapping or scratching sounds. If you hear these sounds in your walls or foundation, you should consider calling a professional pest control company specializing in termites to inspect your home for termite infestation.

Call now for more information on termite treatments (813) 922-8475.

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