DIY Termite Inspection

Based on data of clients collected by Ridpest, it was found that 46% of properties were hit by termites at least once over a period of 4 years. About 32% of these properties were hit by termites (or commonly known as white ants or anai-anai in Malaysia) once, 8.5% twice, 2.3% three times, and 3.2% more than 3 times, during the four-year period. In other words, at least 11% of these properties monitored by Ridpest, the proven termite eliminator, were hit by termites at least once every year.

The message is strikingly clear. The odds are it is probably happening to your property and the only difference is: what do you do now?

Before you immediately decide on your next course of action, you must first of all find out whether your property is hit by termites. Of course, you can seek the services of pest control professionals to inspect your properties and advise you accordingly. However, there is an inexpensive way of detecting whether your property has been hit by termites – do-it-yourself (DIY) inspection.

All you need to carry out the DIY termite inspection are two basic gadgets – a torchlight and a screw driver.

To begin, you need to know where to inspect. Some critical parts of your property that you should pay particular attention to are your door frames, window frames, wooden or parquet floor and skirting, ceiling, built-in cabinets, wardrobes and storeroom. In a nutshell, you need to inspect all areas where there is wood – the preferred food of termites.

How do you know whether there is termite infestation? The following are some tell-tale signs to look out for.

Mud tubes or termite trails

One of the most common ways termites are detected is seeing mud tubes or termite trails. The mud tubes can be found on walls, small gaps (split ends) in the wooden floor skirting, door frames, window frames and other wooden areas. Take note also of timber beadings nailed to your ceiling. Termites usually attack these pieces of wood before moving up to the roof truss. Look out for mud tubes or cracked spots.

If you find one of these pencil-sized mud tubes and it is dry, it is probably inactive. To be doubly sure, scrape away a 1-2 inch segment in the middle of the run. If it is active it will be rebuilt quickly, maybe in an hour or so, certainly in a day or two.

Subterranean termites must have constant access to water. They will die if they dry out. They keep themselves wet with water from the ground and to do this, they maintain these mud tunnels or tubes to the ground.

Change of colour/texture of wooden area

Another sign to watch out for is whether the wooden parts in your property have changed colour, for instance from dark brown to light brown. Observe the texture of the wooden area to see whether one particular portion is markedly different from another. Some of the areas to observe are timber or parquet floor, door frames, window frames and wooden partitions.

Cracks and holes (hollowness of structure)

Look out for cracks and holes in areas such as door frames or window frames, paying particular attention to the sides. If there is a small gap (split end), look for mud tubes in it. Knock randomly at few spots using a screw driver from bottom to the top frame. Check for hollowness.

Termites eat or hollow out channels, called galleries, inside of wood leaving the outside intact but, often, paper thin. If you suspect a specific area, look along trim and molding (they like trim) near the floor for dark or discoloured spots. Push around on exposed wood using the handle of the screwdriver, making sure you do not damage the paint. If they are advanced in the area, the wood will crush in.

Check areas that are hidden from movement, such as sides of floor skirting. Knock the skirting with the handle of the screwdriver to detect hollow sound.

However, just a word of caution. Do take note that the bottom portion of door frames (surface texture) can crack due to water effect, and not necessarily due to termite infestation.

Sound of termites “tick-tick-tick”

Another way to detect termite infestation is literally to keep your ears open. When termites tear and break wood fibres, they produce vibrations or sound. Such acoustic signals, however, can also be generated by other wood destroying insects like powder beetles, bark beetles, house boarder, and carpenter ants, which also break wood fibres. Termites also make sound by striking some parts of their bodies against hard surfaces although many other insects such as stoneflies also display this strange behaviour. To be doubly sure the sound is made by termites, make a small hole at the infested area. If live termites come out of their hiding place, the spot is considered active with termite infestation.


Termites will often reveal their presence with the onset of warm weather. A warm day during normally cold or cool weather can trigger this and cause small winged termites that are similar in appearance to ants to emerge from hiding. These termites are called swarmers and indicate that termites are present. Look for them on windowsills or in your basement. Other signs indicating the presence of termites are discarded wings lying on a windowsill or in a window well.