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What Do Termites Look Like

Mar 24, 2022

Termites are tiny insects that can cause a significant amount of structural damage. According to the USDA, the desert subterranean termite “causes an estimated $1.5 billion in losses each year.” 

Termites recycle wood products into the soil by feeding on the cellulose and breaking it down. They’re a danger to any building that contains a wooden structure or wooden materials.

Once you see signs of termites, seek help from a trusted pest control company right away. A property inspection to check the severity of the infestation can help you prepare for termite eradication services.

Termites Facts You Should Know

There are nearly 2,000 known termite species in the world with over 40 species in the US alone.

General Termite Appearance

Termites are tiny insects and can be identified with the below general characteristics.

  • They are between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch long
  • They have soft bodies with straight antennae
  • Their colors range from white to light brown

Termite queens and kings are larger (up to an inch long). Worker termites often appear lighter. Flying termites, also called reproductives or alates, have two prominent wings and are usually darker than workers.

Termite Roles

Like ants and other social insects, termites fulfill several roles within a colony. The three primary roles are:

  • Soldier
  • Worker
  • Swarmer

Soldier Termites

Soldier termites tend to be larger and darker than worker termites. They have two mighty forceps on the front of their heads. The forceps are their primary means of defense, helping them defend their colony from threats like ants and spiders.

Worker Termites

Worker termites are the lightest-colored of the bunch and are often the smallest type of termite. These insects collect food and water to sustain colonies. 

Swarmer Termites

Swarmer termites are reproductive workers. They locate new colony locations and mate to produce new workers and soldiers. These winged termites rely on wind to find faraway nesting spots. 

Common Termites and What They Look Like

Identifying termites can be challenging. Not only are most termites tiny, but there are also several types to be aware of. 

There are a few physical characteristics that will help you tell the difference between termites and other common insects.

Termites tend to have small round heads and long, oval-shaped bodies. Their heads may be darker than the rest of their bodies, and they often feature small ridges. 

Termites set up colonies in dark, dry areas. You may see them crawling between wooden floorboards, across wooden beams, or on bits of decaying branches in your yard.

Common Types of Termites

Dampwood termites are often found living in damp, decaying branches in yards. However, Drywood termites prefer to create colonies in dry spaces, making them more common inside homes or arid regions.

Conehead termites are widespread throughout the southern areas of Florida and feature bulbous, cone-shaped heads that are far darker than their light brown or cream-colored bodies.

Formosan termites and subterranean termites both live beneath the soil, and both are capable of building mud tubes and tunnels. These structures are one of the most noticeable signs of a termite infestation and are often found on home exteriors or in basements.

Signs of Termite Damage

Because termites are tiny and often infest hidden areas of a home (attics, foundations, wood floors, crawl spaces inside walls), you may not notice a termite infestation until your property has suffered significant damages.

Swarmers can enter your home and create a new colony within a few weeks. Unfortunately, it can take years to notice signs of termite damage.

For that reason, it’s crucial to invest in annual termite pest control services. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for the most common signs of termite damage, including:

  • Darkening or blistering of wood structures
  • Discarded wings of reproductives
  • Frass (small piles of termite droppings that resemble sawdust)
  • Mud tubes (termites use these to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home
  • A soft wood surface that produces hollow sounds when knocked on
  • Uneven or bubbling paint

If you notice any of the above signs of a termite infestation, give the pest control experts at Phenom Pest Control a call today!


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