Subterranean termites without wings
- Think you have termites in your home?
- What do termites look like?
- Why is identification so difficult?
- What are the types of termites?
- Identifying termite species
- Termites with wings
- Control and prevention of termites after identification
- Identifying termites from their damage
- Drywood Termites vs. Subterranean Termites – Know Your Enemy
- Subterranean Termites
- Facts, Identification & Control
- Latin Name
- How Did I Get Subterranean Termites?
- How Serious Are Subterranean Termites?
- How Do I Get Rid of Subterranean Termites?
- Signs of a Subterranean Termite Infestation
- Behavior, Diet & Habit
- More Information
- Distribution of Subterranean Termites
Termites are very small and similar in size to ants, which often leads to confusion. There are also several different types of termites, which can make figuring out which control method to use challenging. In fact, knowing the key differences between ants and termites is a good starting point for identification. Knowing the types of termites you’re dealing with is the next key factor for professionals to determine.
Owing to their secretive nature, termites can be hard to detect, especially with an untrained eye. You are far more likely to spot the signs of termite damage before you spot termites themselves.
There are different types of termites, but there are some very destructive species that like warm, moist, areas. So, cities and areas like Miami, Atlanta, and Charleston can be affected by these species of termite.
As with any other pest, correct identification ensures the use of the most effective control methods and allows you to choose the most appropriate prevention steps to try and avoid problems in the future. You can discuss options such as chemical barriers or other methods to keep termites away.
Need help identifying termites? Call Ehrlich today at 1-800-837-5520 for advice and to schedule a FREE termite inspection of your home or business.
Think you have termites in your home?
Click here to set up an appointment to discuss our termite treatments.
What do termites look like?
Do termites really look like ants? Termite swarmers can look like flying ants, and they are often confused.
The difference between these two pests will greatly impact the type of service needed to control them in your property.
Often a suspected problem with termites, turns out to be a problem with carpenter ants or fire ants, because they look so similar.
Here’s how to establish the general differences in appearance and behavior between ants and termites:
Waist – Termites have a straight waist, while ants have a pinched waist.
Antennae – Termites have straight antennae while ants have bent antennae.
Wing Length – Termites wings are the same length while ants have wings of different length.
Look for discarded wings around window sills – Flying termites (also known as swarmers) are often confused with flying ants, because both their winged mating cycles occur during the springtime. However, flying ants do not shed their wings. If you have seen these flying insects in your property, you can be fairly certain you have identified termites if you’ve also found discarded wings.
Look for differences in body shape – The image below should help you identify important differences in body shape of termites and winged ants (termite is on the right, ant on the left):
Have you spotted termites in your home or workplace? As these insects are highly destructive, you should get professional advice and termite control from Ehrlich right away. Our termite control specialists know how to spot termite eggs, larvae and which types of termites might be causing the damage.
Why is identification so difficult?
Even armed with the above information, it may still be hard to make a correct identification using the naked eye. Bear in mind that termite swarmers are only about ¼ inch long – about the same size as a pencil eraser.
Identification is made even more difficult by the fact that termites often remain hidden away in properties for years without the owner’s knowledge. As already mentioned, the first indicator of a potential problem is usually visible evidence of termite damage.
Ehrlich’s termite species guide offers greater detail on what termites look like and how to recognize the common features between termite species.
What are the types of termites?
What kind of termites are you seeing in your home? Click here to find out.
Identifying termite species
All types of termites can cause damage to your home, but knowing a bit more about the different species of termites can help identify them more easily. Depending on where you are in the country can also determine the types of termites you may have to contend with.
The location of your property as well as its component structure will both have an impact on the termite species, which you may be at risk of.
Generally speaking, incidence of termite infestation is much higher in the southeastern states, such as Florida, and the west coast states, such as California, and gradually decreases the further north you travel in the country.
Here are some of the most common termite species found in the U.S. Subterranean termites are one of the most common species found throughout the U.S.
The top 3 most invasive species of this type, include the Eastern subterranean, Western subterranean and the Formosan subterranean termites.
Eastern subterranean termites are the most prevalent and can be found on the east coast in states like Georgia and as far west as Utah. Western subterranean termites are mostly found along the west coast and inland through to Nevada.
Formosan termites – are a particularly serious type of subterranean termite, but are not as common. Formosan subterranean termites are found primarily in Louisiana, Mississippi, along the Gulf coast.
Drywood termites – can also be found in the US, sometimes nearer to the coast although they don’t need moisture to survive. They are prevalent along the gulf coast as well as on the west coast in California.
Dampwood termites – live in damp and rotting wood and mulch, and can often be found near open water. They can enter your home through wood that meets damp soil.
Termites with wings
The primary function of termites with wings, or swarmers, is to reproduce and generate new colonies. They have two wing pairs, and the presence of these insects indoors signifies that a building is likely infested. Flying termites can commonly be found swarming around window sills or exterior lighting because light attracts them.
These insects will turn into the queens and kings of new colonies. Termites with wings depart from their nests and fly when the conditions are appropriate. The males and females will swarm together in the air. After they land, the swarmers will shed their wings, mate, and start new colonies.
Control and prevention of termites after identification
Once correct identification is made, the most effective solution plan can be offered to quickly bring the problem under control. Ehrlich offers conventional termite treatment which uses liquid termiticide treatment and other methods include the use of monitoring and baiting systems.
Identifying termites from their damage
At Ehrlich, we confirm the invading termite species through a visual identification rather than just looking at the evidence of the damage to your building and its location.
However, some of the points below could be of help to you, when checking your building for signs of activity:
Subterranean termites begin their feeding process (damage) from the ground up and typically enter a building through the sub-structure. Homes with crawl spaces are at great risk. It is here you should look for evidence of damaged wood and mud tubes. Wood damaged by this particular species develops “galleries” (hollow tunnels), which run along the grain of the wood.
Drywood termites typically enter structures near the roof line or other exposed wood to begin building a colony. Inspect your attic for evidence of damaged wood. Look for tiny holes in the wood with evidence of frass collecting nearby. Probing the wood can also expose galleries as well.
Having experienced a termite infestation, most people will be eager to ensure they do not have the same problem in the future. Ehrlich can give you simple steps you can take to “termite-proof” your home or business and the prevention plans can offer further help.
If you suspect you have termites, call us today at 1-800-837-5520 or contact us online to arrange a FREE termite inspection for your home or business.
Drywood Termites vs. Subterranean Termites – Know Your Enemy
Termites are bad news for your home no matter what type. Learn the differences between the species, and you can do everything in your power to prevent these invaders from taking a bite out of your investment. Here’s a drywood termites vs. subterranean termites checklist to help you identify the enemy:
How are drywood vs. subterranean termites’ wings different?
Winged termites are called alates. Subterranean alates have one single thick, dark vein that runs parallel to the top of the wing. Drywood termites have a complex system of veins, usually at least three or four in each wing. Most termites shed their wings within minutes of landing. This is often the only evidence they leave behind.
Are there any differences in their nesting habits?
An important difference between the two is that subterranean termites nest in the ground, while drywood termites nest inside the wood they are infesting. This leads to varying points of attack on your property. Subterranean termites make mud tubes to tunnel through the ground and invade your home. These tubes protect them from predators and dehydration. Drywood termites don’t dig mud tubes, needing zero contact with soil. They infest your home by air and require less moisture (which is why they don’t need soil or the mud tubes).
Can termite excrement help you tell them apart?
Excrement is one of the most common secondary signs of any pest infestation. Each species of termite has different eating and traveling habits, which you can detect in the ‟land mines” they leave behind on the battlefield. Subterranean termites leave behind a non-ridged, cardboard-like excrement called a ‟carton,” which is used as lining in mud tubes. Drywood termites create ‟kick-out” holes to push their excrement through the wood. This leads to their distinctive six-sided ‟frass,” which resembles fine grains of sand or salt and pepper gathering in small piles on the floor.
What about their feeding patterns?
Subterranean termites are voracious feeders but they are somewhat picky. They only chew on the softest part of the wood found between the grains. Drywood termites eat across the grains, leaving galleries that don’t follow the grain of the wood. If you have neat, lined patterns of destruction that appears to include mud or dirt, subterranean termites are likely the culprit. Erratic, smooth galleries that contain fecal pellets, are likely the work of an army of drywood termites.
In the end, this conflict won’t really come down to subterranean termites vs. drywood termites. It boils down to termites vs. your home and the relentlessness of your counterattack. Unfortunately, that’s not a battle you’ll ever win on your own. Call Terminix® and make sure your home doesn’t become just another casualty in the war against termites.
Facts, Identification & Control
Reticulitermes spp., Coptotermes spp. and Heterotermes spp.
What Do They Look Like?
Termites are broadly divided into three major termite groups:
If you are trying to classify a specific termite colony into a group, you need to look at the soldiers and the alates, the winged, unmated reproductive caste, because worker termites across groups tend to look the same. Also important is the appearance of the damage wood they consume.
Identification factors for subterranean termites are:
- Alates (swarmers): Dark-brown to black in color, about ¼ to ½ inch long with two pairs of wings that are very close to being equal in length.
- Workers: No wings, about ¼ inch or less in length and cream colored.
- Soldiers: No wings, large mandibles (jaws), termite colony defenders, are creamy-white in color, but their head is often brownish in color.
- Appearance of damaged wood: Since subterranean termites build their nests underground, damaged wood usually has an accumulation of soil or mud within the tunnels of the wood they are eating. Since subterranean termites only eat the softwood, damaged wood appears to be layered, the result of the workers not eating the hardwood portion. In addition, subterranean termites feed “with the grain” rather than across the grain, as do drywood termites.
- Location of the nest: As their group name suggests, the nest is usually found below ground. Nests may be found above ground, but only when sufficient moisture conditions are available to support the above-ground nest and the colony is old and well established.
How Did I Get Subterranean Termites?
These pests live in the soil beneath and around homes and often enter through wood that touches the ground or by constructing mud tubes from the ground to the wood they infest. Cracks in concrete walls and foundations made of hollow blocks are also paths these insects could take to infest a house.
How Serious Are Subterranean Termites?
As the most common type of termite nationwide, subterranean termites cause billions of dollars in structural damage each year. They also eat books, other paper products, cellulose-based products, and a variety of other plant-based goods.
Some colonies have more than one egg-laying female, so subterranean termite nests can grow quickly and contain hundreds and sometimes thousands of members. Since the pests can often infest homes for years undetected, responding to early warning signs is key to preventing serious damage. The most commonly observed warning signs are the presence of winged swarmers, mud tubes and evidence of damaged wood.
How Do I Get Rid of Subterranean Termites?
What Orkin Does
Continuous Treatment Plans
With Orkin, you receive the most dependable termite control from an industry leader. Our Continuous Protection Plans use scientifically proven treatments designed for your home’s construction type, and every one of those treatments is backed by a money-back guarantee. We’ve been around for more than 100 years, so you can be confident we’ll be here when you need us.
Based on the layout of your home and the degree of termite infestation, Orkin will create a treatment plan tailored for your home.
Signs of a Subterranean Termite Infestation
A subterranean termite infestation begins when warm temperatures and heavy rainfall trigger an established colony to send out a swarm of winged termites. Swarms consist of winged reproductive males and females. Subterranean termite colonies are usually active for three to five years before winged reproductives appear.
Winged, reproductive termites are frequently mistaken for flying ants, but are smaller than ants and have straight, rather than bent, antennae. Termite swarmers have four wings that are all the same size. Ant swarmers have two large wings in front and two smaller wings behind.
Piles of Wings
After mating, swarmer termites land and shed their wings, leaving them in piles that resemble fish scales. If there are piles of wings on windowsills of your home, check to see if they are all the same size. They could be termite wings especially if they are all the same size.
Subterranean termites create a distinctive honeycomb pattern in damaged wood, forming tunnels inside the softer spring wood and leaving the external grain intact.
Behavior, Diet & Habit
Where do they live?
Live in colonies underground, from which they build tunnels in search of food; able to reach food above the ground level by building mud tubes; dependent on moisture for survival.
What do they eat?
Diet consists of wood and other cellulose material.
Different rates of growth from egg stage to adult, depending on individual species; one primary queen per colony, which can lay tens of thousands of eggs in its lifetime, but eggs also can be laid by supplementary reproductives in an established colony.
Subterranean Termite Colony
If you are constructing a new home, especially in a high-risk area, it is advisable that you obtain estimates from reliable professionals for termite-proofing your home. Pest control professionals are best equipped to take preventive measures, which could save homeowners from severe loss. Pest control experts will also be able to make recommendations that can help to prevent termite infestation.
There are over 2,300 described species of termite living today. Many of them are found in tropical and subtropical regions such as deserts and rain forests. However, there are more than 50 species that have been found living in the United States. Collectively, they are responsible for an average of $1 billion per year in property damages, infesting 350,000 structures.
These numerous species are broken down into subterranean termites, dampwood termites and drywood termites. The three types of termites differ in colony-building habits and preferred climate. Subterranean termites build large colonies underground, which are composed of elaborate tunnels and chambers. Worker termites then construct protective tunnels made of mud and saliva in order to reach above-ground wood. When subterranean termites eat wood, they fill it with soil to help maintain the humidity. If mud tunnels are visible on the walls or foundation of your home, it is highly likely that you are experiencing a subterranean termite infestation.
Subterranean Termites Working
Subterranean vs Drywood
Alternatively, drywood termites make their nests within cellulose-based materials such as lumber, siding and wooden trim. They require no soil contact and get their moisture from the wood. They also attack floors, furniture and books. Drywood termites can be more difficult to detect and aren’t typically noticeable until small piles of pellets (their feces) collect.
Subterranean vs Dampwood
Dampwood termites locate their colonies in wood that is wet and even decaying. Wood that is in contact with the soil or wood that is constantly wet are ideal nesting sites for these termites. They are common in the Southwest and along the Pacific Coast. They are also found in Florida. If your home has leaky pipes or other moisture situations, it may be attractive to dampwood termites.
Distribution of Subterranean Termites
Subterranean termites are found throughout the United States, but are relatively scarce in the colder states. They occur in greater numbers in warm, southern states. However they exist in every state except Alaska. They are most common in the humid, subtropical south between Florida and Southern California.