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Old vs. New Termite Damage: Knowing the Difference

Let’s say you’re thinking of selling your house or moving into a new one. In such a setting, it’s always advisable to assess the structural integrity of the property.

One way to do that is by scheduling a termite inspection to check for termite damage. It also helps to know the signs of termites and the damage extent. But how do you tell the difference between old vs. new termite damage?

Here’s how to tell the difference:

Differentiating Old vs. New Termite Damage

Evidence of New Termite Damage

It’s more straightforward to tell whether your property has an active termite infestation than a past one. The main species seen in Florida homes are the drywood and subterranean termites.

Here are the tell-tale signs of new termite damage:


Swarmers are the reproductive caste that leave their colonies twice during spring and fall to start a new termite colony. You might spot them flying next to light fixtures. Once they find a mate, they discard their wings. So, look out for wings on windowsills and other entryways.

Mud tubes

Subterranean termites create mud tubes using soil, moisture, and wood. These pencil-sized tunnels help them travel to and from their food source, offer protection, and help preserve moisture. Break off a piece of the tunnel and wait to see if it appears intact in a few days. You’ll know that you have an active termite infestation if this happens.

Drywood termites don’t nest inside tunnels. Instead, they inhabit the wood they are currently feeding on. They also don’t need soil to enter the house; they take advantage of the entryways. You can tell whether these termites are actively infesting by tapping on the wood and it makes a hollow sound.


You’ll know you have active termite activity when you notice droppings even after a deep house clean. Subterranean termites drop carboard-like excrement known as “carton.” In comparison, drywood termites leave behind frass- hexagonal droppings, which they push out from the holes they create on damaged wood. These droppings resemble black pepper and will appear in clusters.


An active subterranean termite infestation may blister walls and floors because they feed on the wood beneath. This blistering resembles water damage, so you might want to call pest control professionals to ascertain the cause of damage.


Subterranean termites are neat feeders. They tend to chew on softwood and will leave behind linear patterns on damaged wood. You might also spot mud. Drywood termites, on the other hand, leave behind erratic galleries and frass.

Actual termites

The presence of live insects is the most obvious sign of termites. Subterranean termites can be white or brown-colored and about 1/8 inch in size. Drywood termites are light brown and about 3/8 to 1 inch in size.

Evidence of Past Termite Damage

There are the three main ways to differentiate old vs. new termite damage. First, if you don’t spot any swarmers or live termites, there’s likely no current termite activity. Secondly, if you notice mud tubes and break off a section that remains unrepaired after a few days, you have an inactive termite infestation. If you see damaged wood but don’t spot any droppings, you may not have an active termite infestation.

Taking preventive measures is ideal for keeping termites away.

A few things you can do include:

  • Prevent moisture build-up inside and in the yard
  • Repair all leaks (from ac units to faucets)
  • Replace the weather stripping that’s along the basement foundation area
  • Ensure all drainage systems are working and clean gutters regularly to prevent standing water
  • Perform routine inspections by checking for mud tubes, bubbling paint and damaged wood, discarded wings, and termite droppings
  • Place firewood twenty feet away from your house
  • Schedule routine inspection visits
  • Keep plants several feet away from the foundation

Reach Out to a Licensed Termite Control Service Provider

Florida properties provide an ideal environment for termites to flourish. For this reason, a DIY home inspection won’t do. A licensed termite control company will inspect and provide a report. The findings will reveal whether your house has old or new termite damage and the types of termites present plus list the damaged areas.

McDonald Pest Control Offers Comprehensive Termite Inspection and Treatment

Do you suspect termite activity on your Florida property and require pest control services? Look no further than McDonald Pest Control. We offer specialized termite inspection that includes a detailed report. That means, our termite treatment programs are EPA-approved and safe for you and your loved ones.

We offer termite control and treatment services to prevent and treat active and past termite infestations on your property. Don’t let these silent destroyers ruin your home’s structural integrity. Schedule a termite inspection with us today.