Recognize hidden threat in the house: do termites make noise?

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The short answer is yes, they do. But it can hardly be called ‘noise’ though.

In fact, the sound of them eating your house is too quiet to hear in hustle and bustle of everyday routine when kids are yelling and TV is murmuring.

But in the night, if you listen carefully, it may sound very distinct as they gnaw and nibble at your house.

And don’t you worry, these folks know no rest, they work around the clock, so you can’t help but hear them at night.

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First, let’s speak do termites make noise (at night or day)?. Yes, they do make noise but mainly at night.

What do termites sound like? The sound they emit can be called tapping, crackling and popping. Once you hear that coming from a wall in the middle of the night, be warned that this is the sound with which your house is being destroyed.

Technically, it’s not the termite bites that make this sound; it’s just how wood fiber snaps. However, it can only be heard if there’re plenty of termites in the wall, otherwise it will be indistinct.

Also it was noticed that when termites move via tunnels they laid near wood surface, they make a papery rustling sound.

Photo 2In their turn, scared Formosan termites can make rustling sound by banging their heads against the wood to alert their ‘comrades’; being deaf, termites can’t hear the sound by themselves, but they can feel the vibration.

Yet, don’t forget that an abnormal sound coming from the wall may well be caused by something else but termites, e.g.

  • contracting pipelines and ductwork;
  • heating up and cooling down siding;
  • apparatus vibrations;
  • the wind catching siding or gutters.

Sometimes you’d rather consider one of these options.

Learn more about drywood termites: signs of their activity; best methods of treatment: spot treatment and DIY methods; how to get rid of them in furniture?

Sound of the wood

Can you hear termites eating the wood? For sure yes, but you should listen carefully. Even though it’s not about what noises termites make themselves, it would be still important for you to know that there’s a way to detect infestation inside a piece of wood by sound.

All you need to do is to tap along the vulnerable areas with a tool which creates momentum against the wood like a hammer or a screwdriver butt end.

If the wood sounds ‘punky’ or ‘hollow’, this is it. There’re cavities in there and they’ve probably been eaten out by termites. To make sure, you can probe the piece of wood with a screw driver.

However, you should remember that a peculiar sound may be a result of improper nailing to the studs.

Listen carefully

Photo 3Can you hear termites at night? Yes, as it’s been mentioned above, wait till the night in order to hear them clearly.

Then you can take stethoscope or a glass to magnify the termite noise.

Put the instrument against a wall, slow your breathing down and start listening.

Move around and check various areas in your house.

Beside the walls, don’t forget to inspect the floor and the ceiling. Also you can do the abovementioned tapping.

If you do hear the termites distinctly, you should leap into corresponding actions; you can either call a professional exterminator or start the extermination by yourself.

Learn more about subterranean termites: signs of their activity; best methods of treatment and DIY methods. Eastern subterranean termites and their tunnels and tubes with photo.

Not termites?

There’re plenty of animals that can make noises inside a wall apart from termites. These are the animals and briefly description of sound they emit:

  • Mice – tapping and the sound of rolling objects, slight rustling and chipping.
  • Red squirrels tear up insulation and climb up walls, creating scratching sound. Because their teeth are pretty strong, red squirrels can make audible gnawing sounds.
  • Gray squirrels – the same as above.
  • Flying squirrels – the same as above, but louder.
  • Chipmunks. These animals often hide in gutters causing a loud scratching sound and sometimes chirp.
These animals tend to store food, seeds, nuts and corns within wall voids, so the scratching sound may come from their activity. While mice, rats, and flying squirrels work graveyard shifts, red and gray squirrels as well as chipmunks are active in daytime.

Besides, your walls may be visited by such animals like:

  • Raccoons don’t live inside the walls, but they can get there by accident. If so, a raccoon will scratch to get out, cry and hiss.
  • Bats – squeaking and fluttering. Those bats who don’t fly south during winter may well settle down in a house wall or an attic.
  • Photo 4

  • Birds – chirping, fluttering, beak tapping and pecking. Woodpeckers can peck especially loud. Sometimes birds make nests in wall voids. If so, they won’t wish to leave the place.
  • Deathwatch beetles. As the name implies, they make tapping sound after emerging from wood. Assumption is that by doing that they attract opposite sex members.
  • Carpenter ants. Each limb of this ant ends in four structures that resemble hooks that let the ant grip on almost all kinds of surfaces. When using the hooks to climb up, a single carpenter ant makes a scratching sound.
  • Hundreds of them walking together can make a noise that takes after pouring milk into a bowl of Rice-Krispies. Besides, Carpenter ants make galleries inside wood for nesting, even though they don’t eat the wood. So, if tapped, a piece of wood infested by Carpenter ants emits the hollow sound.
  • Wasps. It goes without saying that in addition to scratching and tapping sounds, wasps can buzz.

Here you can learn more information about effective treatment method called tenting (fumigation): dangers for termites, preparing for fumigation and cleaning after, how long does this procedure last?

Useful articles

If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:

Helpful video

What sound do termites make? You can hear termite sounds in the video below:


In short, this is what you should know:

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  1. Termites make noise.
  2. Sound of termites can be described as tapping, crackling and popping.
  3. The gnawing and nibbling sometimes can only be detected with magnification, e.g. by a stethoscope or a glass.
  4. If you hammer a piece of wood with termite galleries inside, the sound will be hollow.
  5. There’re many animals beside termites that can make noises in the walls.
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