Termites are sneaky. Sometimes, they can be so sneaky that it is impossible to detect them until it is too late. Today, we're going to discuss how you can tell that you have a termite problem in your Orange County property, and we will alert you to some of the ways these warning signs can be difficult to see.

damaged wood

Shelter Tubes

When subterranean termites attack your property, they're likely to create shelter tubes on your foundation and on other hard surfaces. These tubes are above-ground tunnels. Subterranean termites need these tunnels in order to stay hydrated. A shelter tube may be one wiggly line about the width of a pencil, or it may go from one line to several as it crawls up a surface. This can make the tubes look a little bit like a river flowing upwards. If several tubes are formed in one location, they can start to look like a thick column.

Note: Subterranean termites can create shelter tubes in locations that are difficult to detect. Technicians have found them on foundation walls beneath decks, on surfaces within crawl spaces, and even inside concrete piers. It is also possible to not have any shelter tubes at all if termite workers find wood-to-soil contact.

Tip: If you find a shelter tube, it doesn't mean you have an active infestation. It could be old. Break off a piece, then check back in a few days. If the tube is reconstructed, you have termites active in your home.


When a termite nest matures, it begins to create male and female, winged reproductives. We call these swarmers because they exit the nest and gather into a swarm as they select their mates. Swarmers are only about ? of an inch long, but when they gather in a swarm, they can be quite noticeable, particularly if they're on the inside of your home. These termites have white wings. The wings stack on the back and are rounded at the tips.

Note: Swarms don't last for more than 30 minutes. If a swarm occurs outside, which happens often, it is easy to miss this warning sign.

Tip: Learn how to identify termite swarmers so that when one tiny little swarmer lands on your skin while you're out in your yard, you'll be able to catch the warning sign.


When termite swarmers mate, they shed their wings. If you find tiny white wings on your property, it is a warning sign of a possible termite nest. While most swarmers don't survive the mating process to establish a nest, it is best to contact a licensed termite control professional in Orange County and invest in a termite inspection when you find shed wings outside or inside your home.

Note: Wings are small and difficult to see. They are also lightweight and can be blown away by the wind.

Tip: If you inspect spider webs on your property, you may find swarmer wings that weren't blown away.

Worker Termites

Termites avoid the light, and subterranean termites avoid coming out into the dry air. These insects are wired to avoid detection. However, you can detect them if you know where to look for the signs of termites:

  • Look underneath dead branches or rotting wood in your yard.
  • Cut into a log, stump, or dying tree.
  • Rake some mulch aside and look under.
  • Dig soil away from structures that have wood-to-soil contact, such as fencing and deck supports.

Note: Keep in mind that worker termites are only ? of an inch long. This may cause you to think that you've found maggots when you uncover termites, as they have a similar appearance. They both look like tiny, pale, wiggly bugs.

Tip: The key difference between worker termites and maggots is that termites have legs and will crawl away into hiding.


If you have a drywood termite problem, you're likely to see frass. This material contains the waste product of drywood termites. It will look like hard, pepper-like grains that are the same color as the wood the termites are consuming. You'll see this material on or near hardwood. A common location where Orange County residents find frass is on window sills.

Note: If frass is pushed out into wall voids, it won't be visible. This can allow drywood termites to do more damage.

Tip: There is typically visible damage to hardwood products when drywood termites infest. Inspect your door and window sills for any changes.

What To Do When You Detect Termites

If you own property in Orange County, you're in our service area. Let the friendly, certified termite control professionals at HomeShield Pest Control do a detailed inspection and provide you with the data you need to make the best decision for your termite control needs. We offer pest control treatments for subterranean termites and drywood termites. 

If termites aren't properly addressed, they will be enabled to cause extensive and costly damage. Connect with us today to see which of our Orange County pest control programs is right for you!