Subterranean Termites

Subterranean Termites
  • Color: Creamy brown
  • Legs: 6
  • Shape: Long, narrow, oval
  • Size: 1/8"
  • Antennae: Yes
  • Region: Found throughout U.S.
  • Description: Subterranean termites live in underground colonies or in moist secluded areas aboveground that can contain up to 2 million members. They build distinctive "mud tubes" to gain access to food sources and to protect themselves from open air. Termite colonies are organized into castes depending on tasks -- workers, soldiers and reproductives. The characteristics of a subterranean termite are dependent on the termite's role in the colony. Cream-colored Worker subterranean termites are 1/8 to 3/8's of an inch in length. Soldier subterranean termites are of a similar body length, but are distinguished by their powerful mandibles. Solider termites have cream-colored bodies and brown heads. Reproductive subterranean termites are approximately one inch long.

    Habits: Subterranean termites live underground and build tunnels, referred to as mud tubes, to reach food sources. Like other termite species, they feed on products containing cellulose. Subterranean termites swarm in the spring -- groups of reproductive termites go off to start new colonies.

    Habitat: Subterranean termites need contact with the soil to survive and live underground. They can build tunnels through cracks in concrete.

    Threats: Subterranean termites are by far the most destructive species. They can collapse a building entirely, meaning possible financial ruin for a homeowner. The hard, saw-toothed jaws of termites work like shears and are able to bite off extremely small fragments of wood, one piece at a time. If you suspect infestation, contact a pest professional about subterranean termite treatment.

    Prevention: The best method of subterranean termite control is to avoid water accumulation near your home's foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation. Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard. Most importantly, eliminate wood contact with the soil. Maintain a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building.


    Formosan Termites

    Formosan Termites
  • Color: Yellowish brown
  • Legs: 6
  • Shape: Long, narrow, oval
  • Size: 1/2"
  • Antennae: Yes
  • Region: Virginia, Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, California
  • Description: Originally from China, Formosan termites are the most voracious, aggressive and devious of over 2,000 termite species known to science. Formosan termites are a subterranean species of termite. Swarmer formosan termite are about 1/2 inch in overall length, including their wings.

    Habits: Formosans are organized into huge underground colonies, and build intricate mud nests inside the walls of a structure.

    Habitat:Formosan termites are the most aggressive subterranean termite species. Formosans are organized into huge underground colonies, and build intricate mud nests inside the walls of a structure.

    Threats: Because of their aggressive nature, formosan termites are difficult to control once they infest a structure. Prevention is key. If dealing with an existing infestation, talk to a pest professional about formosan termite treatment.

    Prevention: Avoid water accumulation near your home's foundation. Divert water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters and splash blocks. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation. Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard. Most importantly, eliminate wood contact with the soil. Maintain a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building.


    Conehead Termites

    Conehead Termites
  • Color: Cream bodies; dark brown heads
  • Legs: 6
  • Shape: Long; narrow; Soldiers have a pear shaped head
  • Size: 3 - 4 mm
  • Antennae: Yes
  • Region: Mainly Florida
  • Description: Conehead termites are an invasive species native to the Caribbean. They were first introduced to the U.S. in 2001. Originally called "tree termites," they were renamed conehead termites to alleviate the misconception that this pest is only found in trees.

    Habits: Unlike most termites, the conehead termite does not rely on underground tunneling to travel. Instead, they forage on the ground like ants, allowing them to spread quickly.

    Habitat: Conehead termites build dark brown “mud” tubes and freestanding nests on the ground, in trees or in wooden structures. The nests can be up to 3 feet in diameter and have a hard surface of chewed wood.

    Threats: Conehead termites are an extremely aggressive termite species known for causing widespread property damage in a short period of time. Additional research into the species and treatment options are critical to controlling this destructive pest’s spread, or else millions of dollars in damage can be expected.

    Prevention: Because of their unique habits, conehead termites have proven difficult to control with existing treatment methods. The nest must be located and destroyed, and the structure may require repeated treatments in order to gain control. Costs associated with treating conehead termites are typically higher than other termite species, and homeowner insurance policies do not usually cover wood boring insect damage. If you suspect a conehead termite infestation, it is important to contact a licensed pest professional promptly.


    Dampwood Termites

    Dampwood Termites
  • Color: Brownish
  • Legs: 6
  • Shape: Long, narrow, oval
  • Size: 1/2" - 5/8"
  • Antennae: Yes
  • Region: Pacific coastal and adjacent states, the desert or semi-arid southwest, and southern Florida.
  • Description: As the name suggests, dampwood termites infest wood with a high moisture content. Dampwood termites are normally larger in size than other termite species. Bodies of king and queen dampwood termites range in size from 1/2 inch to 5/8 inch long and have two pairs of wings that are equal in size and shape and extend beyond their abdomen. Nymphs range up to 5/8 inch and worker dampwood termites are up to 3/4 inch.

    Habits: Dampwood termite colonies, like drywood termites, have no worker caste. The nymph dampwood termites take care of the kings and queens of the colony and feed the soldier caste.

    Habitat: Because of their need for excessive moisture, dampwood termites are not often found in structures.

    Threats: Dampwood termites do not usually infest structures because of the low moisture content of wood in structures. However, care must be taken to avoid attracting dampwood termites to a structure.

    Prevention: To avoid dampwood termites, make sure downspouts and gutters are diverted well away from the structure, and avoid prolonged contact between a structure and large areas of moisture, such as ponds or snow drifts.


    Drywood Termites

    Drywood Termites
  • Color: Light brown
  • Legs: 6
  • Shape: Long, narrow, oval
  • Size: 3/8" to 1 inch
  • Antennae: Yes
  • Region: Primarily occuring coastally from South Carolina westward to Texas and up the west coast of California, with spotty infestations occuring in other regions of the U.S.
  • Description: These social insects infest dry wood and do not require contact with the soil.

    Habits: Drywood termites form colonies of up to 2,500 members. Unlike subterranean termite species, drywood termite colonies do not have a worker caste. The work is done by immature termites before they reach adulthood.

    Habitat:Drywood termites infest dry wood, like that found in attic framings

    Threats: Drywood termites can infest structures and cause significant damage.

    Prevention: Drywood termites can be avoided by making sure firewood and scrap wood is stored at least 20 feet from the home. Drywood termites form new colonies by gaining access to wood through small holes. As a drywood termite treatment tactic, seal all cracks and crevices in a structure.


    Source: National Pest Management Association