What Do Termites Sound Like In Walls? Can You Hear Termites Chewing?

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | February 1, 2024

Man with his ear on the wall wonders what do termites sound like in walls, do termites make noise, can you hear termites chewing and other signs of termites and how to prevent termites.

If you suspect you may have a termite infestation on your hands, one question you may be asking yourself is, what do termites sound like?

Can you even hear them eating in your walls?

Since visible signs aren’t always present with termites (they can eat through wood beams inside the beam and make it structurally unsound over time), termite infestations are much more than that due to the serious structural damage they can cause to the home.

But, can you detect them by sound?

This guide explains the answer to the question, what do termites sound like, and includes other early warning signs to watch out for so that you can stop termites from eating you out of house and home.

What Do Termites Sound Like in Walls? Can You Hear Termites Chewing?

If you’re wondering, do termites make noise? Termites do make a number of sounds as they go about their business of eating their way through the structures of your home.

Generally speaking, however, you may not be able to pick up on these sounds.

Between being behind a thick barrier such as a wall, and being very small, the noises may be faint and hard to hear.

What Do Termites Sound Like? What Do Termites Sound Like in Walls?

What do termites sound like in the walls then? Termites generally make two different types of sounds.

Graphics of the sounds termites in walls make which include sounds similar to clicking fingers or popping sounds of pouring milk over cereals and dry, papery, and rustling sound.

Soldier termites, when they sense danger may be afoot, will warn the colony by shaking their bodies or banging their heads against the wall. It will sound similar to someone clicking their fingers or even like that popping sound when you pour milk over rice cereal.

The termites can’t actually hear anything though; they are responding to vibrations they feel.

The second sound you may hear is a dry, papery, rustling sound. This sound results from termites tunneling and chewing through the surface of the wood.

What Do Termites Sound Like? Another Sound To Listen For

There is a third sound that can help you determine if you have termites, but it isn’t a sound that comes directly from the insects.

How does it differ from what do termites sound like? If you tap areas of the wall where termites have done damage, the wood will have a hollow sound to it.

However termites in walls may not be the sole reason for the sound produced as it may also result from softer decayed wood or from wooding being improperly nailed to the studs, so it doesn’t automatically suggest an infestation.

Other Signs of Termites

Because you may not be able to hear termites in action, it is important to know other signs of infestation.

Hollowed or Damaged Wood

Termites use wood as a source of food so as they work their way through it, the wood becomes hollowed out.

Hence the aforementioned ‘hollow’ sound you may hear when knocking on walls in areas where termites have taken up residence.

Low-angle shot of a a building wall showing the extent of damage on a structure when there are termites in walls.

(Image: bryce_nesbitt6)

As termites chew through the wood, they create long grooves in it that may resemble a maze or honeycomb pattern. These grooves weaken the wood and it is this weakening of the wood that causes structural damage in the home.

Buckling or Blistering in Wood Flooring

If termites have been chewing through the softer subfloor –which they prefer– you may notice your wood floors have a wavy appearance or appear discolored.

Termite Swarmers

Swarmers are responsible for reproducing and forming new colonies.1

A termite swarm in house can be indicative of a termite colony very close to your home, and perhaps even inside it.

Discarded Termite Wings

Termites are attracted to light, which is why you will usually find discarded wings near doors, windows, and other points of access to the home. They shed their wings because once they land they will not need them again.

The presence of these wings suggests a new colony is being built nearby.

Your Doors and Windows Are Hard To Open and Close

As termites chew through the wood, it buckles and warps. The misshapen wood makes it difficult to open and close doors and windows.

If they are really damaged, they may get completely stuck and not open at all.

Window Frames No Longer Support Curtains and Blinds

If termites have eaten away at the wood frames surrounding your window, they will no longer be able to support the weight of your curtains and blinds.

Mud Tubes

Subterranean termites live underground and form tunnels to travel to their food source–the wood structures in your home, or perhaps an outdoor area like a tree or shed.2

If you see pencil-size tubes of mud where the ground meets your home, you probably have termites chowing down inside the house somewhere.

Subterranean termites require temperature and humidity levels to survive. The mud tunnels create a warm, moist environment that blocks out cooler, drier air from the outside.

Termite Droppings (Frass)

Termites like to keep the areas they are moving through clean, so they don’t just leave their droppings lying around. As they are tunneling through, they kick the wood excrement out through little holes.

If you see little piles of pellets resembling saw dust or coffee grounds on windowsills or the floor, you may have a dry wood termite infestation.

Bubbling Under Paint and Wallpaper or Damaged Drywall

Termites will also eat through paper because paper also contains cellulose, the component of wood that serves as their primary food source. Termite damage here might show up as tiny pin-sized holes in the drywall or wallpaper.

These holes are capped with a small speck of dirt, which may look like bubbling underneath the paint or wallpaper.

Really Squeaky Floors and Loosening Tiles

If termites have been eating the subflooring beneath your tiled floor, the tiles will become looser. If you notice more noise when walking over wooden floorboards, you may have termites.

The buckling and blistering cause damage to the wood, and the sound results from applying pressure to these damaged areas.

Dipping Ceilings

As termites chew through supporting structures, you may notice your ceiling starting to dip.

Does Mulch Attract Termites?

Do you like gardening and wonder, does mulch attract termites? Mulch can attract termites.

They really don’t see it as a quality food source but are drawn to its ability to retain moisture and protect them against more extreme temperatures, so most types of mulch will be problematic, not just wood.

If you do use it, use it sparingly and keep it at least one foot away from the siding.3

Calling in the Professionals

Termite damage can be serious, and if you suspect an infestation, it is best to call a pest control professional or an exterminator as soon as possible. You likely can’t handle the problem on your own.

If you are interested in measures to keep termites away, you’ll find some tips below, but these measures are best employed once an infestation has been brought under control so you can prevent another one in the future.

Termite Exterminator Cost

The exterminator prices hinge on a number of factors from the extent of the infestation to your geographic location. Some homes may require a single treatment while others will require multiple.

When getting quotes for termite exterminator costs, it is important you fully understand what the quote covers. The average cost in the United States is $530, with the low-end average coming in at $230 and the high-end average at $930.

Possible Treatments

Exploring possible treatments for termite infestations provides homeowners with a range of options to effectively address these persistent pests.

Graphics of list of treatment for termites showing bait station, termiticide, gas fumigation, and heat treatment are considered one of the best ways to eradicate termites in your home.

From bait stations and termiticides to gas fumigation and heat treatments, understanding these methods is crucial for making informed decisions about protecting your home.

  • Bait Station: With this treatment, the technician will place bait stations around the home, where the termites hopefully take the bait back to the colony, killing it off. The bait will be regularly monitored to ensure the termites are eating the food.
  • Termiticide: The exterminator will apply this chemical treatment to the soil in areas near the infestation. The termites will die upon making contact with termiticide.
  • Gas Fumigation: Severe infestations will require more extensive measures such as fumigating the entire home. The exterminator will seal off the space and pump it full of very toxic gas.
    This is obviously one of the more pricier treatments overall and the cost will be based on the size of your home.
  • Heat Treatment: Heat treatment is another way of dealing with severe infestations and some may prefer this to gas fumigation. Your home will be tented while the exterminator heats the structural wood to a temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, which is high enough to kill the termites.

How Destructive Are Termites?

Termites are extremely destructive. They cause billions of dollars of damage a year in the United States.4

They live in large colonies and need lots of food to survive, and that food is the wood supporting various structures in your home.

Knowing what do termites sound like will help you save thousands of dollars from treatment and repair costs.

Preventing Termites

Here are some things you can do to prevent termites from invading your walls.

  • Prevent wood from coming into contact with the ground.5 When the wood and soil meet, this gives termites easy access to your home.
    Door frames, window frames, and wood siding should be at least six inches off the ground. There are other modifications you may consider making to your home such as cutting the bottom off lattice woodwork or pulling soil back from the foundation.
  • Keep moisture from accumulating along the foundation. Termites are attracted to moisture.
    Make sure downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks are properly functioning. Repair leaking faucets, A/C units, and pipes.
    Position lawn sprinklers and irrigation systems so the water doesn’t puddle near the foundation.
  • Keep crawl spaces as dry as possible. Keep vents free of dirt, leaves, and any other debris; be sure vegetation is not blocking them.
    Use polyethylene sheeting over 75% of the soil surface to absorb moisture.
  • Don’t store firewood, other wood debris, newspapers, cardboard boxes, and similar items against the foundation or in the crawlspace. Not only are these food sources for termites, they may serve as an entry point to the home, allowing them to avoid pesticide-treated soil.
    You also want to keep any dense plants from touching the house like vines or ivy.

Termite infestations are probably the most troublesome due to the extensive damage they can do to the home. Unfortunately, they can wreak havoc long before you are alerted to their presence.

“What do termites sound like” is a critical question to address, and understanding other clues to their presence is important for catching the problem as early as possible, minimizing potentially very expensive structural damage to your home.

Read More About What Do Termites Sound Like


1Crawly, S., & Hayes, C. C. (2009, December 1). Termite Swarmers – What Do They Mean for You? NCSU. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from   <https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/termite-swarmers-what-do-they-mean-for-you>

2Gold, R. E., Howell Jr., H. N., Glenn, G. J., & Engler, K. M. (2023). Subterranean Termites. TAMU. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from   <https://extensionentomology.tamu.edu/publications/subterranean-termites/>

3Oi, F. M., & Wheeler, M. (2007, March). Termites in Mulch? IFAS | UFL. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from   <https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/archive/hot_topics/lawn_and_garden/termites_in_mulch.shtml>

4United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, April 4). Termites: How to Identify and Control Them. EPA. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from   <https://www.epa.gov/safepestcontrol/termites-how-identify-and-control-them>

5Potter, M. F. (2023). Protecting your Home Against Termites. UKY. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from   <https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef605>

6Insulation misses, and termite damage Photo by bryce_nesbitt. CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Cropped, Resized, and Changed Format. Retrieved from   <https://www.flickr.com/photos/10105026@N07/22794183895/>