Termites are tiny, but they can cause massive problems for homes and other structures. Unfortunately, spotting living termites on your premises is difficult. Instead, you need to look for indirect signs, such as the damage they leave behind.

What do termite holes look like? Here’s what to watch for:

Do All Termites Leave Holes in Wood?

Termites have a reputation as wood-eating machines, but only one species leaves exit holes in wood. The drywood termite bores through wood as they make new colonies. You’ll often find these termites in attics, garages, and around woodpiles and trees.

Although termites can make holes at any time, you’ll find that they’re most common during the mating season. Mating occurs during the spring and summer months.

A lack of termite holes doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of termites. Subterranean termites are also common throughout Texas, but they don’t build their nests in wood. Instead, they live in and travel through mud tubes. These are thin, brown structures commonly found along walls and floors.

Identifying Termite Holes

Close-up of termites nesting in timber.

Identifying termite holes gets tricky, as they’re only visible for a short time. It’s also easy to confuse them with holes created by other pests. It’s one of many reasons why a professional inspection is the best option for determining if you have a termite infestation. A trained technician will consider the holes’ size, shape, and location to identify the type of pest that made them.  

Termite holes are round and small, usually 1/8″ or smaller. You can find them in wood, drywall, and mud. These holes provide access between the interior and exterior of the dwelling. Common locations include crawl spaces, attics, garages, and similar spaces.

Adult termites use these holes while swarming. During this process, they leave the nest to form colonies of their own.

After the swarming termites exit the nest, the termite nymphs seal up the holes. They do this using a material called frass, a cement-like paste made from feces and wood. While drywall termites aren’t professional contractors, they do a decent job of patching things up. As a result, the holes are difficult to find unless you know what you’re looking for.    

By contrast, subterranean termites build nests underground. When they swarm, they leave the nest through mud tubes. These tunnels look like dried dirt, often found in out-of-the-way corners both inside and outside the premises. Most of them are about the thickness of a pencil.

Do Other Insects Leave Holes in Wood?

Termites aren’t the only insects that damage wood. Other pests also create networks in wooden structures for nesting, travel, and moisture collection. Some insects common to Texas who can damage wood include:

  • Carpenter Ants – These tiny black or red ants leave behind small, circular holes and sawdust.

Carpenter ants on and around a wood plank with an egg case.

  • Carpenter Bees – They leave behind fingertip-sized holes in wood along with yellow-brown stains.

A carpenter bee perched above a hole it made in a tree branch.

  • Powderpost Beetles – This describes over 70 species of wood-boring beetles. They create minuscule holes and can quickly turn wood into dust.

Close-up of two wood-boring beetles on tree bark.

  • Bark Beetles – As their name implies, bark beetles chew through wood with ease. They also leave behind small, white masses on the wood.

Close-up of a bark beetle on a piece of wood.

Each wood-boring pest requires a specific course of treatment, which is why the presence of any unexplained holes requires a pest control inspection from a professional technician.

Repairing Termite Holes

Unfortunately, because termites plug up their holes quickly, they’re often hard to detect. By the time they become obvious, the termites may have already created a sizable nest. Fortunately, in most cases, the damage is localized to a specific area. It usually takes decades for termites to cause widespread structural problems for an entire dwelling.

A professional termite inspection is often the best way to determine the extent of the damage. An expert technician will pinpoint the main areas of infestation. After identifying the nests, removing the termites, and preventing their return, repairs can begin.

Additionally, a professional inspection provides a record of the infestation and related damage. You’ll need this if you plan on filing a homeowner’s insurance claim for the damages. In some states, a record of termite removal and related structural repairs is necessary if you want to sell the property.

Contact Stampede Pest Control today to get a free quote and to schedule your termite inspection!