Signs of a Termite Infestation

In Hawaii, there are only two types of homes: those that have termites in them, and those that will someday have termites in them. The Aloha State offers the perfect climate for termites of all species to survive and thrive. That is why it is vital to know what a termite infestation looks like.

There are two main classifications of termite in Hawaii, and signs of an infestation will differ depending on what type of termite you have. They are as follows:

Drywood Termite Signs

  • "Kick-out" holes: When drywood termites attack a home, they create "kick-out" holes to push their feces out of their tunnels. If you're seeing tiny holes in hardwood, especially window frames, you could have these termites.

  • Droppings: The feces of drywood termites can be found on window sills and stacked in a pile underneath "kick-out" holes. These pellets are hard and about the size of coffee grounds. Often they are mistaken for sawdust.

  • Wood damage: These termites are more likely to cause damage you can see. If you're finding furniture that has been chewed on, paint that is blistered, or an area of wood that looks like it has been attacked by carving knives, drywood termites are the likely cause.

Subterranean Termite Signs

  • Mud tubes: Subterranean termites need moisture to survive. Often they will build mud tubes on walls to give them access to areas they can't reach directly from the soil. These tubes can be found on basement walls, in crawl spaces, and also on interior walls. When looking for mud tubes make sure to check in secluded and hard-to-get-to places, such as under decks, porches, and exterior stair encasements.

  • Hollow wood: If you have subterranean termites eating the wood of your home you may be able to tell by tapping wooden supports or studs with a hammer. If there is a hollow sound, you could have termites in there.

  • Clicking: Termite workers bang their heads against tunnel walls to communicate with each other, especially if they sense the presence of a threat. If you put your ear to a wall and you are close enough to an active infestation, you may be able to hear this clicking.

  • A nest: If you have Formosan subterranean termites in your home, you may find their nest in your attic. This species of subterranean termite does not need to build mud tubes to get up into your home. They coat the inside of their nest with feces to maintain the appropriate moisture and do not need to go back and forth from the soil outside. These nests will look like packed mud that is the same color as the soil outside your home.

Signs Both Termites Leave

  • Swarmers: When a termite colony matures, it will begin to produce male and female alates. These reproductive termites have wings and are created to leave their current nest in search of a new location to build a future nest. When swarmers appear on the inside of your windows, it is a clear indication that a mature nest is in the walls of your home.

  • Wings: Termite swarms don't last long. If you missed the swarm, you may see shed wings lying around on window sills. Termite alates shed their wings after mating.

  • Warping: If your floors begin to have a dip in them or your walls start to have a bulge, termites may be to blame. Their feeding activity can cause support beams to weaken and the structure of your house to bend. This will also cause walls to bulge out, windows and doors to stick, and ceilings to sag; but if you're seeing this kind of damage, it is probably too late to avoid extensive and expensive repairs.

Often, termites give little to no sign of their presence inside a home. They can attack from the ground and eat up into the wood silently for years, and Formosan termites are the worst, establishing a nest right inside your wall voids, attic, or crawl spaces, so there is no need for them to travel far to get a meal.
It is never a good idea to wait till signs of a termite infestation appear. Few termite signs are visible or recognizable to homeowners before damage is done. A termite inspection should be done by a certified professional to ensure that no termites are present.