Homeowner – how to detect termites

The best protection is to check for termites regularly

The best way to detect termites is to be aware of what to lookout for and be constantly vigilant. You know your home more intimately than we do… you are there every day. Who could be better? – Actually us!

Get into the routine of checking your home regularly – at least every month (especially if the house doesn’t have a current chemical treatment in place).  It doesn’t take long and the rewards are significant – you will detect a termite infestation before severe damage may occur.

 So, what do you look for? How do you check for termites?

Professional inspectors are trained and experienced. They have equipment that measures moisture, sound and thermal variations. Your only tools are your eyes and sense of touch – initially, that can be enough.

Self-Detection Routine – Do this as often as you can.


Walk around checking under any loose timbers for active termites. Check stumps, trees retaining walls – any timbers that are in contact with the ground. Even exposed CCA treated timbers will become susceptible to termite damage at some stage. Check under garden-bed plastic especially if it is next to your home, termites love to travel under it. Remember, they love moist areas.


Walk around the perimeter checking each weep hole. Check along the entire ant capping. Remember, ant capping is only a point of detection, not a deterrent. If you have a suspended floor, check each stump for “leads” that might be travelling into the structure.


Use a large screwdriver. Hold it by the metal end and lightly tap along all exposed timbers inside, checking for a hollow sound. Any timbers you cannot reach, run a torchlight over the surface looking for any visible defects.

Roof Void

For the keen ones, get up into the roof with a torch and check the top plates and trusses for any damage. Check above the bathroom especially.

Signs of Termites
Hollow – papery timber

Termites might be masters at staying concealed but they do leave “tell-tail” signs that you can detect. This is what you have to be constantly vigilant for.

They can enter completely unnoticed. Termites eat timbers from the middle to the outer edge, leaving the paint as a protective layer.

They can build large workings, or even a nest, in a wall cavity, you just wouldn’t know. But at some stage, they will make themselves evident in exposed timbers. You will detect this as a defect in the timber, it might appear as a depression in the paintwork, or it might have a “papery” look

Mud leads

When termites want to leave the ground to enter your home, they build “mud leads” to help them bridge the gap. This is when they are most detectable.

They can build a lead out of the ground into the structure through a weep hole. They can build a lead over the ant capping to gain entry into your home. They can easily build a tube up a pipe into the floorboards.


Concealed entry

If you are looking, you’ll find this evidence! It’s when the termites gain concealed entry into your home that it is a real concern. If your home has a concrete slab, then statistically, 60% of termite entry is from a crack or gap under the slab.

the structure through a weep hole. They can build a lead over the ant capping to gain entry into your home. They can easily build a tube up a pipe into the floorboards.

What do termites look like?

What do termites look like?

You don’t want to get nervous and lose sleep when you only have found Black Ants! Termites might look like ants but in fact, they are more closely related to cockroaches. Socially, ants and termites behave in the same “colony” manner. That’s where the similarities start and finish.

Termites are whitish in colour and don’t have a segmented body like ants. You never see termites out in the open. They are always in a concealed environment staying warm and moist. Concealment is their primary survival mechanism.

More information about termites
Termite sounds

Termites might make a noise when they become alarmed. The soldier termites will hit their heads against the timber to make a knocking noise like a Morse code to marshal the worker termites away from danger.

Do Not disturb the termites
Don’t disturb them! Don’t be tempted to reach for a can of bug spray and become the exterminator. If you alarm them, by instinct, they’ll flee back to their nest until they feel it’s safe to come back. This means when you call a professional Termite Technician, (and you should) they don’t have the opportunity to identify the type of termite and might not be able to detect them in other areas in your home.
Termite Inspection
Termite Inspection

eed an Expert Termite Inspector to check your home and offer treatment advice? Book a full Visual Subterranean Termite Inspection to the Australian Standard 3660.2.2017

Learn more
If you find termites – call us
It’s now time to get a real professional in to assess the degree of termite infestation in your home and to advise you on the best course of action.