Termites are easy to detect, right? When they feed on the wood of your home, you'll see them crawling around, you'll hear them chewing, and you'll see the damage, won't you? Don't count on it. West Chester termites are subterranean termites. These insects live in the ground and can quietly feed on man-made structures for years without being detected. If you hope to detect these insects, you need to be aware of what makes detection such a challenge and know how to uncover the evidence where worker termites hide it.

termites eating wood
termite on wood

Shelter Tubes

Termite workers create above-ground tunnels made of soil and saliva. These shelter tubes, often called mud tubes, can be an obvious warning sign of a termite infestation. It's hard to miss a line of mud the width of a pencil, or in some cases, many tunnels in a mass the width of a column. Unfortunately, these tubes are rarely created out in the open. Here are a few secret places you might find them.

  • On the sides of a brick staircase that has dense vegetation touching it.

  • On the side of a foundation wall where landscaping conceals it.

  • On the inside of a hollow staircase.

  • On the interior foundation walls of a home that has a cellar or crawlspace.

Mud Patches

Termites don't just use soil and saliva to make shelter tubes. They use this material to patch any breaches in their tunnel walls. It is possible to see these tiny mud spots on wood that is being eaten by termites. As with shelter tubes, these spots usually appear in concealed spaces. They're also usually small and easy to miss.


Termites rarely damage wood in a way that is visible. Wood damage is not visible for the same reason shelter tubes are often concealed. Termite workers dry out easily and they will avoid coming out into the air if at all possible. The vast majority of damage they do will be on the inside of wood timbers. You may, however, find termite damage in locations where there is damp wood, damp conditions, or high humidity. High moisture in wood or air will allow termites to be more conspicuous. Sadly, most West Chester homes don't have these conditions. We know that moisture causes wood rot, and wood rot is the death of structures in Pennsylvania. If you manage your gutter system and guard your home against moisture damage, you're probably not going to see subterranean termite damage until the damage is extensive.

Worker Termites

These termites make up the greatest population in a termite colony. All the termites in a colony get their sustenance from the workers. You may think that you'll notice worker termites on your property before these insects damage your home, and the truth is that you may—if you know what they look like and where to look for them. Worker termites are about ⅛ of an inch long and pale in coloration. They have six legs and look like fat ants. If you pick up a dead branch in your yard and see termites, you might think that you're looking at maggots. Their small size and pale coloration make them resemble maggots. You might see them and discard the branch quickly without thinking about it. But if you take a moment to consider that maggots don't have legs, and that they don't eat wood, you'll realize that what you saw were termites. The downside to this detection method is that you shouldn't allow rotting wood to sit on the ground in your yard. This provides a food source for termites and leads to faster colony growth. It is best to remove wood and detect termites in other ways.


This can be an easy way to detect termites, but it rarely is. Swarmers are white-winged, black-bodied termites. This contrast of color can make them noticeable. But there are a few challenges to detecting termite swarmers.

  • Some people don't know what a swarmer looks like. If you don't, a swarmer could land on your skin while you're in your yard and you may just shoo it away thinking it is one of the thousands of other insects that can land on you.

  • A termite swarmer is only ⅜ of an inch long. That's not much to look at.

  • Termite swarms last less than 30 minutes. After a swarm breaks apart, the paired couples that survive disappear into the ground to create their nests.

  • It takes years for a termite colony to produce swarmers. That's years that a colony can feed on your home before you see this warning sign.

How To Detect West Chester Termites

The best way to catch these termites early is to invest in termite baiting from Masters Touch Pest Solutions. We use the Advance Termite Bait System with Trelona® to make detection easy. We also provide termite protection with Termidor® HE. Don't wait for termites to damage your property. Reach out to us today to protect your investment from wood-damaging termites in West Chester. 


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