All About Termites and Clean Up with The Bagster Bag


There we were, Harvey the electrician and I were happily making progress on the kitchen renovation. Harvey was just finishing up on the last row of outlets when his hand disappeared into the wall. “Ummm, Ms. Bailey, I think there’s something wrong with this stud.” I looked over to see him pulling wood shavings out of the hole he had cut for the outlet. “What the…..?” (I repressed my urge to curse.) Within five minutes of his discovery, we had pulled down the sheetrock around the suspicious stud and were glaring at a poor excuse for two framing members and the wall’s bottom plate.


The two studs were so brittle and destroyed that I was able to poke my entire finger through them. (Let’s see you do that to a solid 2×4, Mr. Houdini!)


Not good…not good at all. I had to make the unfortunate call to Pretty Handsome Guy to tell him the bad news. But, I broke it to him lightly, “Honey, what is the one home disaster we HAVEN’T had to deal with yet?” He guessed tornado (Shoot, forgot about that one.) “No, Termites! But, the good news is that there is no live infestation.” See, it always helps to temper the bad with some good news. 😉

The next few days were fraught with nail biting, lightly walking around that wall (for fear it might topple over), and multiple phone calls to the termite company, our building inspector and a structural engineer. To make this long story short, the structural engineer was the most helpful and advised us to fur out our walls to carry the wall load over the remaining perfectly good rim joist. If that sounds Greek to you — no worries — I really want to share with you what I’ve learned about TERMITES instead!

These little miniscule insects have a notoriously voracious appetite. And let me tell you, they can eat a lot before you are even aware that you have uninvited dinner guests (let’s make that all day, all you can eat buffet guests.)

Different termites in the colony:

Termites workers (the ones that do the actual damage) are small white insects approximately 1cm in size. They are actually very fragile and need moisture to live. Therefore they will bring moisture with them, which helps break down the wood fibers faster.


Photo Courtesy of Malcolm NQ

Swarmers: In the spring and early summer, termites will swarm. This is when they grown wings and mate. Sometimes swarming termites are mistaken for flying ants. Although similar, upon closer inspection termites do not have three distinct body segments that ants have.  Termites also have four wings the same shape and size. If you see swarmers anywhere around your home, you should contact a profession pest control company immediately!


Photo courtesy of Greg Baumann

 The Queen: This Mother …… is responsible for increasing her colony size. Her sole purpose is to mate and lay eggs while the others wait on her hand and well, errr….I don’t even know if she has feet.


Photo Courtesy of Mechnine

What can you do to protect your home from termites?

  • Eliminate water from around your home:
    • fix leaky faucets and pipes, defective gutters or downspouts, standing water, and excessive vegetation around your home
  • Eliminate food sources for termites on and around your home.
    • Keep firewood, paper, and untreated lumber far away from the exterior of your home
  • Make sure that your home’s siding is not touching or under the ground. Only concrete, cinder block or brick should be in direct contact with the dirt.
  • Keep up with home maintenance and inspections.
    • Siding should be in good condition.
    • Mulch and wood is cleared away from foundation walls.
    • Inspect foundation and walls for mud tunnels.
  • Have an annual termite inspection and termite contract with a reputable company (check Angie’s List, Better Business Bureau and/or neighbors for referrals.)

How can you tell if you have termites?

  • Swarming termites or termite wings around or inside your home.
  • Cracked, bubbled paint, or pin holes can be a sign of termites trying to get out of the walls to swarm.)
  • Wood that sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Mud tubes or tunnels on your home’s foundation, walls or crawlspace.

Did you know:

  • Termite damage costs the southwestern United States approximately $1.5 billion each year in wood structure damage.
  • Termites can go unnoticed for 2-4 years and eat an amazing amount of wood during that time.
  • Depending on the species termites can eat 1 foot of wood in 19 – 120 days! (Gulp! Let’s just hope if you have termites you have the slow eaters.)
  • If you have an annual inspection, your termite inspector will be looking for hollow sounding wood, holes in wood or mud tunnels along the foundation or anywhere around your home. This is a good reason to make sure that the termite inspector can access all areas of your garage, crawlspace, attic and more.
  • Termite damage can pose severe structural issues if left unrepaired. Consult with a structural engineer if you have severe damage (damage to load bearing walls and supports.)


What will happen if you have termite damage?

Dealing with termite damage can be as easy as adding a sister board to damaged lumber or it can mean tearing out drywall to replace damaged studs and wall members.


Depending on the repairs needed, a decent amount of construction debris can accumulate. In our case, we had to remove all the sheetrock along one wall in the kitchen to determine the extent of the damage. Four studs and a few sections of the base plate were removed and replaced with new 2×4’s.   After the repairs, there was a decent pile of debris to contend with. I was lamenting the fact that we couldn’t just set the pile out for pick up with our regular trash. AND, I really  didn’t want to rent a big ugly dumpster which would be an eyesore for all parties who happened to meander, bike, run, or drive down our street. :-(


On my 235th trip to the local home improvement store this month, I nearly ran into the Bagster® Bag display (also available at over 2,000 locations across the country.) How silly of me! I forgot that the Bagster® Bag is a simple and affordable solution for waste and debris removal. At $29.95 + a flat $79-$159 pick up charge (depending on your location), it was a no brainer to bring one of those green bags home with me.


Within two minutes, I had the Bagster® Bag set up and ready to fill. That little guy is definitely a low profile stealth cousin of the big ugly dumpster.


By neatly piling the heavy items in the bottom and strategically stacking the sheet rock and insulation, I was able to fit the entire pile of rubbish into the spacious Bagster® Bag.


The Bagster® Bag isn’t just for termite damage and construction debris! It’s a great tool for spring clean up. Clear out your attic or garage and have your own personal pick up of all the junk that you clear out!


Disclosure: Waste Management partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in its The Bagster® Bag Blogger Challenge.  As part of this program, I received compensation to cover the cost of the Bagster bag and pick-up as well as my time.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products used for the The Bagster® Bag Blogger Challenge. Waste Management believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Waste Management’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations. A winner will be chosen by random and voucher fulfillment will be handled by a third party.

You can read more about our kitchen disaster and renovation in these updates:

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We never had termites, but when I was younger we had carpenter ants and we had to pull a whole wall out from our bathroom, and we were lucky the damage was contained.

We have had termites not once, but three times in the same spot (despite our termite contract and annual termite inspection). The first time was next to a drain spout. the wet wood made for a nifty snack. We had the house treated, rerouted the drain, and thought the problem was solved. The second time they invaded the header board above the garage door. Once again we called the termite company and the treated again, this time for no charge. The third time was the same spot above the garage door header. Trust me the third time was not a charm! I was livid. Once again the termite company treated it for free since their annual inspections had not detected the infestation, but we were out significant repairs for the damage. We fired the termite company and have a new service that checks for infestations with a thermal camera. The new company tells us the termites had never been eliminated, they just continued chomping away even after all the drilling and smelly treatments.
I follow the new company around the house each year and make them triple check the areas where we have had problems in the past. I like the thermal imaging. It shows blocked downspouts and leaks as well as termites, but it isn’t cheap. But we have learned from experience… neither are termites!

Never had to deal with the pesky buggers yet, but thankfully I rent…so if I ever had to, I wouldn’t have to deal with it. But definitely informative and something every home owner should be aware of!

I have never had termites, but my parents did when I was a kid. They came in through some outside shrubery that had gotten too big.

I’ve only had termites in a rented house we lived in. we made the Landlord aware of the problem, but he didn’t do anything about it. I would go around the old window sills and wipe up “wood dust” constantly.

We lived in Taiwan for two years and had a swarm come through little openings in our windows (on the 10th floor!) and it was disgusting! We did not stay in that apartment long enough to find out if any of them that may have survived our mad spraying did any damage.

Makes my skin crawl remembering it!

Oh my gosh thank goodness it wasn’t a live infestation. Ours wasn’t either, but they certainly did some damage. I was spring-cleaning and found a bunch of my artwork leaning against a wall in the closet had huge holes! They had chewed their way straight out of the wall! We had to replace the drywall on the closet side, and if I remember correctly only two studs. I bet Mom would’ve loved that bagger instead of having to take a trip to the dump.

I’ve never had termites but my parents had a pretty bad infestation in their firewood pile once. We ended up burning the whole pile that day and got the ground around it treated so they wouldn’t travel to the house.

What a nightmare! I’m glad I read through the comments and saw the comment about the companies that use thermal imaging. I need to find a new company that does it that way. We haven’t had termites, band I hope to keep it that way.

Pretty Handy Girl, we had two types in our house. The first was dry wood termites. They are the type that come in with, uh oh, old furniture. Ours were brought in with a Hoozier I bought at an antique store and restrored. They can lay dorment for years and then swarm. I was heart broken and am VERY careful about buying old furniture now. The other was the typical and they were in the garage, thank God. Had the problem taken care of and now have a contract with a company to come once a year.

We found termites living in a section of our back fence. We did a full inspection of the fence and house after that. We treated the spot and have not had a problem since that time. That was 25 yrs ago. We still check for new signs but we have found no new problems.

I’ve never had to deal with termites myself, but when my husband and I bought our house, the home inspector noted that there had been severe termite damage in the past. We’ve been remiss about calling a pest management company to do monitoring . . . your post has inspired me to move it up my to-do list. I don’t want those things in my house!

When we got married (almost 10 years ago) and moved into our apartment, I was wondering why there were some dead insects on the floor of the bathroom. A few days later, a swarm of them were all over the bedroom that backed up to the bathroom. Needless to say, I was frantic. The pest control company finally came out the following week, drilled through the floor and treated the place. (We were a garden level apartment.) Thank goodness, we had no problems after that, but boy was it stressful!

We’ve had a Terminix contract since we built our home in ’93. They’ve found tunnels a few times at the annual inspections, but so far they’ve been found and treated before causing any damage. It’s well worth the contract price to cover us if they ever cause any damage. It’s been a problem for a number of people in our neighborhood.

It was almost one year ago that we bought our house and I was thrilled knowing we had original 1940’s hardwood floors underneath the carpet! SO when our puppies adjusted to the move by making the living room their new “potty pad” I decided it was as good a time as ever to tear the carpet out. What I discovered was a lot of dirt and rotted looking wood. Turns out it was termite damage and it cost about $800 to get the chemical treatment. After that it was a matter of taking out some planks from the back of a closet and replacing the damaged floor. Luckily it was only a few, but there are some more that are under the couch that have been hollowed out, that I will get to eventually. Ours is a brick house with cement foundation and I was surprised to learn they found a spot in the porch they were able to burrow through. Go figure!

Luckily, knock on wood I’ve never had to deal with termites. But thanks to you I now know to have an inspection each year. Thanks for always sharing info.

Such a useful post. We live in Texas and termites are a reality. Everyone needs to be aware of the issues these pests can truly cause. I have family members that have spent thousands of dollars to eradicate these beasts. Thank you for sharing!

Incredibly informative and helpful Brittany. Have escaped these pests so far but I will be on the lookout a little bit better from now on. Thanks for this post & am so sorry you’re having to deal with it.

We’ve never had termites…I could be wrong, but I always thought that it wasn’t something I had to worry about, living in Ohio. We are pretty eager to move further south for more temperate weather, so perhaps we’ll have that to look forward to 😉

No termites, thank goodness, but a whole mess of other issues (mostly resulting from original construction 18 years ago!).

I have not had termites (knock on wood) but my SIL had them very bad in her first house. All of the men in the family had to go and basically take apart her kitchen. They were half way up some of the boards.

I feel for you because I remember the horror of coming home to swarming termites in my closet and master bedroom. There were thousands of them that had gotten in by eating the closet baseboard. I never saw the damage that was being done because my clothes were hanging down close to the floor.

I’m in Georgia and had the unfortunate experience of owning a synthetic stucco (EIFS) siding home. The termites were feasting on the wood around the chimney which stayed wet because the flashing on the roof around the chimney was not installed properly and the stucco was below the ground. Both of these issues created a perfect home for the termites. The damage was in the tens of thousands and insurance didn’t pay for some of it because they claimed the roof flashing was a maintenance issue that was our fault. The home was only 8 years old and we hired an inspector when we bought the home.

The lesson learned: Don’t buy an EIFS home or BE SURE the stucco is not below grade if you have one already. Hire a good inspector when buying a home; one with insurance accountability if structural damage occurs due to his failure to report a major home building code violations such as flashing issues. I have a friend with termite and water damage due to improper flashing around windows and doors on an EIFS siding home.

Thanks for your post. It is valuable information for EVERYONE!

I, too, had 2 episodes.
2010: Knew my barn was rotting because it was listing. Then I saw termites swarming out from under a log the previous owner had used when he chopped wood. His ax was still in it. Got trouble in River City — or Wood city, I guess!

After calling a great referral, we agreed on the job. Then I mentioned former termite damage in a window we’d cut out of the house for a slider. At 100 yards away, he wasn’t concerned, but offered to throw in spraying the back concrete porch just in case. We shook hands and he drove away.

I walked into the mud room to find termites swarming so thickly they were piled up like snow against the dogs’ bowls. I called him. I almost asked him if he’d planted them! [LOL].

They sprayed. Everywhere.
The next morning looking out my back window I saw this great fog around my barn. Oh, foggy morning, I thought. Then I noticed the cloud glinting in the sun. For about 45 minutes termites were swarming out of the ground in a tornado-like funnel, probably to get away from the poison!

They ended up treating my entire house twice, and the outside of the barn twice. I had the barn rebuilt and treated.

This last spring I came out to find termites piled up on my car windshield. Called them again. Due to my STBX’ horrible plumbing and the leaks I’ve had to deal with since 2005, I’m not surprised I have termites and trouble. Water, mulch, firewood, water, awful. They eat through concrete, did you know that? I’m on crawlspace and slab. They were coming out in my mudroom between joints in the slab.

Water!!!!!! Bad.
Termites are shocking. Like mold, you never know where they’re going to be until you open something up — or they’re in your face.

I’m sorry. A P.S.
This is why metal studs are a great idea in part of the country. Expense of rebuilding or a one-time repair with non edible metal.

I’ve never had termites (that I know of!) but I’m still living in the first house I’ve owned, so there’s no telling what lies ahead! Here’s hoping it’s nothing terrible!

I love your description of the different signs and symptoms of termites. When we bought our house 30 years ago it had been treated for termites and a full disclosure was given when purchasing the house. 31 years later, just as the guarantee has run out, we are finding mud holes in the basement. I’m going to call an exterminator today!
Thank you for your advice.

Thanks for all the information! I have never had them but will be inspecting this spring for the little destroyers! Thanks also for the chance to win the gift card!

I have not had termite damage that I am aware of, but this post has made me more aware and I will be making a call to have someone come out and take a look here very shortly. I have been neglectful in having an annual inspection so I need to quit putting it off. Thank you!

Thank you for the great information. I have never experinced termites and hope never to. But I will make an inspection as soon as the weather clears and check out my foundation. Thank you

As far as I know I’ve never had termites — but it has also been several years since I had a termite inspection. PHG – do you recommend getting the termite treatments? The ones where they bore down below your home?


Oh we thankfully have never had them, but my sisters home did and it was so horrible. This was a great post! I have never seen them before and now know what to look for!

I have not had termites before. However, we recently relocated to Texas and I’ve read they can get pretty bad here, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!! This was a really informative post on the subject!

I have termite damage in one corner of my detached garage. Thank goodness it’s all the way at the rear of my property (and far away from my house). I know they’re there because the garage roof needs to be replaced (as it lets in water every time it rains), but quite honestly, replacing the garage roof (and now parts of the garage) aren’t in the budget.

Having worked on houses for most of my life I have seen quite a bit of termite damage. The worst was when we had to remove and replace about 20 feet of an exterior wall. Most of the studs had some damage and I recall three 2×4’s that were adjoined under a window that crumbed in my hand. There was no support remaining!

If you live in SE Louisiana it’s not a case of ‘if’ you’ll get termites so much as ‘when’. Luckily, at home I’ve only had to deal with the domestic subterranean kind, quickly caught, and quickly dealt with, not the appalling plague known as Formosan Termites. I work in New Orleans, and my workspace was the site of a huge nest of these devils. I am so grateful I didn’t have to pay for THAT remedial work!

Even here in Arizona, we have termites. My parents had to have their house treated. Our house had to be treated, but was still under builder warranty. Every time we do yard work, we take a glance around looking for signs of termites.

we had termites before, and you’re right about the flying ones! we couldn’t figure out what that swarm of flying ants was! nightmare!

I’ve never dealt with termites before; it sounds horrible. I didn’t know mud tubes were a sign… thanks so much for that tip! I’ll be checking around my house when the snow is gone. Thank you for the give-away; I really need to do some clearing out.

I have never had termites but we not live in an area that they are more common. Know on wood we don’t end up with them though.

I have had termites in both houses that we have owned. Damage was not bad either time.No trouble selling the first house post termite. We still live in the second house. We had treatment several years ago and had no re-occurrence of the termites. Made me so made though. We watched out home being built and saw scrap wood being put in a pile where our back porch was going to be poured. Several years went by with no problem … then termites. Our house is on a slab and all brick so we didn’t think we had any worries. We got termites because of the builder cheaping out and using the scrap as filler for the poured porch. Lesson learned!!!!!!

I know people who have had them and had to deal with the damage they cause. Not pretty. However, I could not look at the pictures of them here. I just seem to get too creeped out. Silly me. Glad to hear about the bags because we have what looks like a TON of debris out back from our house remodel.

I work with reclaimed lumber for my small furniture business and it usually has some of the tell tale signs of termite damage. I think after reading your post I may want to find a different place to store it! Yikes!

Hi Brittany! I’ve certainly have termite activity in my house – when I replaced the trim around the master bath doorway and replaced the master bath counter-top, there was evidence the nibbling ?*&!#@s had been there, but no live activity. However, two years ago & also after the last monsoon season, there were mud tunnels on the south wall of the master bedroom. I live in Tucson, AZ and my house exterior walls are adobe brick and the interior walls are drywall. I had my termite control company drill around the cement foundation to treat two years ago and this last time they drilled to treat inside the master bedroom along that south wall. Good luck with your repairs!

OMG, I recently bought a home in AZ, the first month I contacted a pest control company, (awesome company) BTW, and I had those nasty listtle devils! Luckily there was little to now damage. They guarentied the work for 10 yearsm YEA! So sorry you had t0 go thru this. Thanks for the chance to win. Suz

Thank you for sharing your termite woes. I too had a few bouts with termites in my lifetime. One in a house I owned – it wasn’t severe damage, but was certainly scary. Another one was at an uncle’s home in Long Island where I stayed for almost four years. Since I knew what swarming termites looked like from past experience, I was instantly alerted and got the exterminator out right away. As far as I know, they haven’t returned.

So far, we have been lucky with regards to termites, but we have been in our house in Wake Forest for 7 years now and haven’t had it re-inspected. Now, I am seriously paranoid! Time to do it…

We’ve luckily never had termite issues in our house. Though, I got to see termites when I was young when my dad found some in a pile of dead wood out in the pasture and decided to show them to me.

I live in an apartment, so I haven’t had them, at least that I know of. I would love to own a home someday, now I am educated to try to find out if the home is infested before buying. Thanks!

We had terrible termites when we lived in Florida. They ruined the flooring in out house and we had to have part of it replaced. It was an old house. But we paid dearly for the damage.

When I lived in an apt I had termites eat an old family heirloom table :( Now I own a condo — we had to cover the building a few years ago and the damage was extensive.

When i sold my house I found it had termites and had to have it treated. Thankfully the damage was not too bad and mostly confined to the garage.

Oh no! I think I saw shavings like that along a wall today when we were tearing out carpet, in the huge space between the floor and baseboard. I didn’t think anything of it — until I saw your photos. Ugh.

I was cleaning and preparing one wall of my garage to put up shelves when I noticed mud tunnels and dirt smears. I pulled everything away from all the walls and found half a dozen damaged places. So far it looks like the termites are long gone and the damage is confined to mostly some baseboards and door trim, but I haven’t had it repaired yet so the assessment may get worse. I’ve been told that living in NC, if you don’t have termites yet, you will! Great post and comments; I’m going to look into the thermal imaging inspection also.