Do Termites Make Noise? Listen for These Sounds

Three Termite Sounds Every Homeowner Should Know

Are you constantly checking in with your social networks? If yes, you may have more in common with a termite than you think.

Do termites make noise that humans can hear?

Yes. If you have an infestation, there are three common termite sounds that you might hear:

  • A papery rustling
  • The hollow sound heard when the wood is tapped

While the first two sounds are physically caused by termites in action, the latter stems from hollow voids left in the wood by termites as they eat through your home.

Why would I hear a dry rattle sound?

When termites are threatened or disturbed, they communicate by banging their heads against the walls of their tunnels. This creates a dry rattling that human ears can hear. Termites, however, cannot hear audible noise; they react to the vibration they feel. For an example of the rattling, click here.

What causes a papery rustling sound?

Drywood termites can tunnel near the surface of the wood, which can cause a papery rustling sound as the insects move, according to the State of Florida’s Department of Agricultural and Consumer services.

What does hollow-sounding wood mean?

If tapping on the wood in your home produces a hollow-sounding tone, you may have termites.

The noises termites make are faint and rarely heard. You would need a stethoscope to hear termites at work. Alternatively, if you tap the surface of the wood surrounding termite damage, a hollow sound can easily be heard. While this is the most reliable sound for detecting termite damage, it is only one piece of the larger body of evidence needed to confirm termite infestation.

A professional termite inspection gives you the best chance of finding termites in your home, whether you hear termite sounds or not. Even then, with the best inspectors on the case, elusive termites might still be actively damaging your home, undetected. Take your precaution one step further and get the protection of a termite damage repair guarantee from a company that can stand behind it.

7 Signs You Might Have Termites

Signs You Might Have Termites
Here are 7 signs of termites that you might have these unwanted guests living in your home:

1. Head banging

Not yours, but the termite soldiers! You may be wondering what do termites sound like? One sign of termites is quiet clicking sounds coming from your walls. Soldier termites bang their heads against the wood or shake their bodies when the colony is disturbed to signal danger to the other termites. The worker termites, which are the ones who love eating your woodwork, are noisy eaters. If you put your ear close to any wood infested by termites you can hear them munching away.

A little known fact is that termites love rock music! Queen, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Rolling Stones, Nirvana you name it. A recent study carried out in the eating habits of termites found that these wood addict insects work faster when they hear rock music. When a selection of termites were subjected to a rock track they ate wood two times faster!

Termites are sensitive little creatures. They can detect vibrations and noises using several organs which are found at the base of their antennae and on the tibia (one of the segments of the leg).

Scientists at Australia’s CSIRO even think that termites can tell the size of a piece of wood by using vibrations to measure it from the inside something even humans can’t do yet! There is still a lot to be discovered about these little pests.

2. Flying termites

Usually the first sign of a termite infestation is the presence of flying termites called swarmers or alates. The flying termites are the males and females that have left the nest to find a mate and then establish a new colony which could be near or in your home.

Some species swarm at night and are attracted to light sources. Other species will swarm in daylight, but all drywood termites tend to swarm after rain at particular times of the year.

Another common sign of termites is the discarded wings. Flying termites lose their wings shortly after finding a mate. Male and female termites pair up then crawl to a suitable nesting site where they seal themselves in to mate and start the new colony. The king and queen start off by caring for their young until there are enough workers to take over. The king continues to tend for the queen and the pair can live together in the growing colony for over ten years.

Did You Know in some termite species the males die shortly after mating but the Queen can live for up to 20+ years!

3. White Ants

A common mistake people make is confusing termites with ants or calling termites ‘white ants’. This misconception is an easy one to make as both ants and termites are very similar in both shape, size and in some cases behaviour.

  • Termites are light in colour. They are usually a white/creamy colour and can sometimes look quite translucent.
  • Compared to ants termites antennae are dead straight rather than elbowed.
  • The waste section of a termite is a lot thicker than that of an ant. The section where the thorax meets the abdomen is very narrow on ants, whereas on a termite this section is quite large in comparison.
  • Both flying ants and termites have two sets of wings. However, a termites set are both the same size compared to an ant who has one set larger than the other.
See also:  How Many Species Of Ants Are There

The important thing to note is that there is no such thing as a white ant. If you think you have spotted an insect which looks like a white ant in and around your house then you might have a termite problem on your hands.

4. Papery or hollow sounding timber

Termites usually consume wood from the inside out, leaving a thin veneer of timber or just the paint. When you knock or tap on an area that has termite damage, it will sound hollow or papery. This is because part or all of the timber inside has been eaten away.

Signs You Might Have Termites

Some of the most common stories you might read about termites is that a problem is only discovered when the vacuum cleaner goes through a skirting board or a finger pressed into a door frame goes through the frame.

5. Tight fitting doors and hard-to-open windows

Often related to signs of damp and hot weather, stiff windows and warped doors can also mean termites! The moisture they produce when eating and tunneling through door and window frames causes the wood to warp, making it tough to open doors and windows.

6. Tunnels in wood

The tunnels, also known as ‘galleries’, are obviously quite difficult to see from the outside, but if you see them in a piece of broken timber near or in your house it is a sure sign that termites have set up camp in your home.

Signs You Might Have Termites

Various types of technology have been proposed for detecting tunnels and the activity of termites when there are no visible signs. These include borescopes, electronic odour detectors, microwaves, sound detectors, infrared detectors, Xrays and even dogs, but only a few have been tested in laboratory conditions or are in use — some are used by Rentokil technicians.

7. Frass – Termite Droppings

A key sign of termites, and in particular drywood termites, is frass – termite droppings. This indicator of an infestation is something that is always looked for during a termite inspection. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites don’t use their feces to build their tunnels. Instead they push their poo out of small holes near the entrances to their nest. This results in small black marks and a dark powdery substance in and around the area in which they are infesting.

Subterranean Termites

So you know the signs of Drywood termites but what about subterranean termites? Unlike their cousins, subterranean termites prefer to live underground in soil, particularly in your garden and under your house. Find out more about subterranean termites in our previous blog Termites Underground – The Dark & Smelly Story.

Professional Termite Inspection

Rentokil’s specialist technicians are expert in looking for the signs of termites around your home and have various types of technology to detect them when there are no visible signs. These include moisture sensors, heat sensors and sound sensors.

Most insurance policies do not cover termite damage so it is a good idea to have a regular professional inspection to detect termite infestation as early as possible and minimise the risk of costly damage to your property.

If termite activity is found, Rentokil technicians can provide you with recommendations for the suitable treatments available for your property.

The 5 Signs Of Termites In Furniture

The word “termite” can strike fear into any homeowner: These tiny insects, once established in a given area, are capable of doing an immense amount of damage. If you live in a warm climate, termites can do more than just harm your home, too: Drywood termites, which are found throughout the Southern United States, are notorious destroyers of furniture.

Saving Furniture Before It’s Too Late: Recognizing The Signs Of Drywood Termites

Termites can be difficult to detect as, unlike many other types of wood-boring insect, their activities make no sound—you can’t actually hear them eating away at wood. However, as early intervention is key to saving your furniture from destruction, it’s important to learn to recognize the many subtle signs of termites in furniture, which include:

  1. A “hollow” sound when you tap on the wood parts of your furniture. Try gently the hitting the wood in your furniture with a metal instrument—if the sound returned has a “hollow” note to it, it’s likely that you have termites. The hollowness you’re hearing is caused by the many tunnels they burrow throughout the wood.
  2. The presence of raised “tunnel” structures. Look at the wooden sections of your furniture and see if you can identify the presence of slightly raised tunnels. Usually about the width of a pencil, these tunnels are made of the termites’ saliva, fecal matter, soil, and other byproducts.
  3. The presence of fecal matter. Termites leave behind piles of tiny, light-to golden-brown colored fecal pellets, which can usually be seen either under infested furniture or in holes and crevices in the wood of the furniture. Drywood Termite feces is characterized by its distinctive elongated shape, which is rounded on either side, and its flattened surfaces.
  4. The presence of shed wings. Termites often form “swarms” which include winged individuals. These “swarmers” shed their wings periodically, so if you find clusters of silvery wings littering your home, it’s probable that you have termites.
  5. The presence of sawdust. While just the presence of sawdust alone is not enough to verify a termite infestation, when it is seen along with the other signs on this list, it’s a likely indicator that your furniture is home to a termite colony.
See also:  Other Pests

If you find evidence of termites in one piece of furniture, note that it is extremely important to check your other pieces of furniture as well as the infestation may have spread. In order to effectively get rid of termites, you will need to have all areas where they are present treated; if you do not, the colony can often simply re-establish itself.

Can you hear termites?

Since termites are about as small as ants, you might not think they would make any noise for you to hear or notice. However, termites actually do make noises that are sometimes easy to hear and sometimes not so easy to hear. When they are at work they make low volume sounds that you’d need a stethoscope to hear. But if you were to tap on a piece of wood or other object that was infested with termites, then you would hear a more noticeable sound.

Signs You Might Have Termites

There are three types of sounds you will hear from a termite infestation. The first two are a papery rustling sound and a dry rattle sound. The paper rustling sound indicates the termites are tunneling their way close to the wood’s surface. The dry rattling sound is when the termites are banging their heads on the tunnel as they pass through it. These are the sounds that may be harder to hear on your own. But the third sound is more of a hollow sound which you can hear after tapping the wood that became hollow from the termites. Once you tap the wood, the termites will become disturbed and feel threatened. This causes them to quickly rush through the tunnel walls they created, which makes a much louder dry rattling sound that humans can hear on their own. Any time you hear a hollow sound then it means the wood is infested with termites. Chances are if you don’t hear this sound after tapping on the wood then you won’t hear those other sounds either. This would indicate there are no termites.

As for termites, they are not able to hear sounds at all. They only react to vibrations that they feel around them. So if you were to make noise near the termites then they wouldn’t react at all. But if you were to tap or move the wood they’re infesting, then it will send vibrations that will alert them of a disturbance. When the termites are banging their heads against the walls of the tunnel they are actually communicating with each other. Even though they don’t hear the rattling sounds, the rattling still creates vibrations that serve as a form of communication between the termites. But as a human, these sounds will alarm you that you have an infestation problem and it will give you the incentive to notify your local exterminator to come eliminate these annoying pests.

Wood That Termites Will Not Eat

A few woods are naturally resistant to termites, including cedar and redwood. Only certain parts of these woods are resistant, the heartwood and occasionally the bark. Pressure-treated wood is resistant to insects and decay, and lasts longer than un-treated wood. Another option is wood and plastic composite materials that are impervious to insects and do not warp or rot.


Pressure-treated wood is created with the use of pressure and vacuum cycles where a preservative is embedded in the pores of the wood. This forms a chemical barrier that resists termites and decay. There are two basic chemical preservatives used to treat wood, alkaline cooper quaternary (ACQ) and copper boron azole (CBA), which replaced the previously used chromate copper arsenate (CCA).

Naturally Resistant

The heartwood of some woods is naturally resistant to termites. Redwood and Alaskan cedar, also known as Pacific Coast yellow cedar, are two of the woods that have natural resistance to termites and decay. Alaskan cedar is shown to be a little bit hardier against subterranean termites than redwood in a study performed by the University of Hawaii. Another wood that proved resilient against subterranean termites in this same study is the Laotian teak. Other woods that performed well in the study include sugi, kamani, milo, kou and tallowwood, which is used primarily for construction in Australia.

Malaysian Woods

A few of the woods native to Malaysia and Hawaii are toxic to subterranean termites. These include the tualang, casuarinas pine, sentang and the kempas. The heartwood of these woods has been proven in studies researched by the University of Hawaii to be toxic to Formosan subterranean termites.

Composite Materials

The use of waste wood fiber and plastic comprise a composite material used in construction that is impervious to insects. Composite materials require no maintenance, won’t warp, chip or rot and generally possess guarantees that range from 10 to 50 years.

If you have termites, can you hear them chewing?

If your home is infested with termites, are you able to hear chewing sounds? I swear I have heard an odd chewing noise several times when I am trying to put my son down for a nap, and it sounds like it is coming from a wall. Any ideas?

See also:  Would termites bore through plastic, Yahoo Answers

How do I know if termites are eating my house?

You awaken. The night is still; your house is dark and quiet. Your dog groans as he stirs in his sleep at the foot of your bed. You hold your breath, listening to the deafening silence. You hear nothing but your rapid heartbeat. But you know they’re there. You can sense them: termites.

It’s likely every homeowner entertains some degree of concern over whether his or her house is being eaten slowly by these winged insects of the order Isoptera. An estimated $2 billion is spent annually in the United States to protect and defend homes from termites’ insatiable appetites for all things cellulosic [source: NCSU]. Warding off termites seems like a Sisyphean task. Termite colonies start small but can reach populations of millions — all working in cooperation to ruin your life [source: Su and Scheffrahn].

While humans often curse the very existence of termites on this planet, we’re actually the ones to blame for their attacks on our homes. As voracious wood-eaters, termites serve a distinct purpose in forest ecosystems: They break down dead trees, allowing new ones to grow in their place [source: UGA]. When humans come along and clear forested areas to construct new homes, it’s like removing a dinner plate and replacing it with an all-you-can-eat buffet of wood, wood, wood! Termites simply follow eons of survival instincts by searching out a food source.

But that’s beside the point, isn’t it? That food source could be your house, and you want to know whether termites have moved in and begun feasting. The thought of having to replace your house is making you jumpy — quite frankly, you’re in such a nervous sweat, it looks like you’re beginning to display symptoms of hyperhidrosis. So how do you know if termites are eating your house? Find out on the next page.

Signs that Termites Are Eating Your House

In the «Art of War,» Sun Tzu wrote: «One who knows the enemy and knows himself will not be endangered in a hundred engagements» [source: Osinga]. In other words, if you’re aware of both your enemy’s and your own weaknesses and strengths, you’ll be successful in battle. We’ll move forward under the assumption you know yourself fairly well. So here’s some useful information about your enemy, the termite.

These insects live in structured societies, with members divided into classes. At the top are the king and queen, and the other members of the colony are divided into reproductives and soldiers. Some types of termites also have a worker class.

Once they emerge from their eggs and begin developing wings, termites have a pretty sweet life. Wings indicate reproductive termites — ones capable of producing offspring. Reproductives can fly off to found their own colonies once they get a little older. They usually seek out new turf in the late summer or fall and occasionally in the spring, creating swarms [source: UNL]. Swarms are your first sure sign of a termite problem — when termites hunt in droves for a new place to establish a colony, they’re hard to miss.

Once a reproductive pair finds a suitable place to live and mate, they bore into the soil or into a wood structure, seal themselves off and commence to mating. As they reproduce and their offspring learn to care for themselves, the founding king and queen stop foraging, sit back and allow their kids to feed them. Their food of choice is simple sugars, derived from the cellulose found in wood and wood products. When termites consume wood, it’s digested by protozoa living within their stomachs. The waste has to come out, and unpleasant as it is, excrement is the second telltale sign that termites are sharing your home. Termite fecal matter occurs in tiny, thin strips, rounded at the ends [source: Bob Villa]. If you find tiny piles of these fecal pellets — especially around wood — you’ve got termites.

After they’ve burrowed into your home, termites have one of their basic needs covered: shelter. They also need food and a water source. While different types of termites need these things to varying degrees, all termites require some of each. A viable water source that can sustain a colony of termites doesn’t have to be a pond or lake; even deriving water from damp wood can be enough for subterranean termites [source: LSU].

Termites require moisture because they’re actually relatively fragile creatures. They can easily dry out without enough moisture. Here, we reach the third clue that you’ve got a termite problem: mud tubes. These hollow tunnels act as termite causeways, protecting the insects from heat and dryness as they commute between nest and food source. The mud tube is the calling card of subterranean termites, and you can usually find them running up from the ground along foundation blocks in your basement or crawlspace or inside walls in your house [source: UNL]. Follow the tunnel all the way up, and you’ll see that it terminates into a floor joist or a structural beam. When you reach that piece of lumber or wood, try tapping it with a screwdriver. If it makes a hollow sound, try inserting the screwdriver; if it goes in easily, termites have hollowed out the softer inside of the wood, leaving the less delicious hard exterior.

  • Gaming Forward says:

    I have a question for you. A few months ago in my new house by my bed there was 2 holes in the wall and I checked the whole wall and there was nothing else. I just assumed they were nail holes and went on and now months later there are 13 more holes on the wall and some of them are way too small for a nail. Does this mean I have termites?

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