WHAT DOES A TERMITE LOOK LIKE

WHAT DOES A TERMITE LOOK LIKE?

For a homeowner, knowing the basics of termite identification can mean the difference between stopping an infestation early or having to make expensive repairs.

So what does a termite look like? Where do they live? How can you tell if you have termites? Here are some quick tips to help identify whether or not you have a termite on your hands.

Termites range in size from one-eighth of an inch to one inch long. They can vary in shades of white, brown and black, depending on their type and age.

Termites are sometimes confused with flying ants because both have wings and antennae.

To differentiate the two, note that termites have two sets of equal-length wings on their bodies, three body segments (which are not as distinct as an ant’s) and straight antennae. Ants have two sets of wings that are different lengths, three distinct body segments and bent antennae.

WHERE DO TERMITES LIVE?

Most common termites in the United States are the native subterranean termites. Other types found in the United States are drywood termites and Formosan termites, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Termites live in colonies, which take time to form and grow, according to the State University Extension.

Termites like moist areas, with high humidity.

Termites eat cellulose, which is found in plants and trees. This is why the structural lumber of your house is the main reason termites enter. They’ll also eat or chew through other building materials in the process of foraging, such as insulation, plastics, fabrics and carpet (not to mention your furniture).

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.

WHAT ARE SOME COMMON SIGNS OF TERMITES?

Soft or hollow-sounding wood

Mud tubes with white, squishy insects inside them or swarms of flying termites

Don’t struggle with termite identification. Call Terminix® today and schedule a free home inspection. When it comes to your home, you want to be sure.

www.terminix.com

Identification

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.

www.jcehrlich.com

What Do Termites Look Like?

There are over 40 species of termites in the United States alone. Although they have distinct characteristics, most look similar.

  • Size & Length: they typically measure between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch long.
  • Body: The pests have soft bodies and straight antennae.
  • Color: Colors range from white to light brown in color. Worker termites often appear lighter, while swarming termites are darker.

Differences in Species

There are variations in size and color between termite species. For example, western subterranean termite soldiers have yellowish heads, while western drywood termite soldiers have reddish brown heads. Dampwood and drywood termites tend to be larger than subterranean termites.

Differences in Castes

Termites have three different castes, each of which performs different roles within the colony. Each caste has unique physical features to help it fulfill its role in the colony.

Even within the same species, termites that belong to different castes can look very different.

Workers Worker termites tend to be lighter in color. Workers are the smallest of the castes. In general, workers and nymphs are soft-bodied and look like larvae.

Soldiers
Soldiers tend to have worker-like bodies, but with hard heads that are often dark in color and have large jaws. Soldier termites have soft bodies with hard, enlarged heads and large jaws (mandibles) that help them protect the colony. Fully mature, reproductive termites have wings and hard bodies that prepare them for leaving the nest to start new colonies.

Alates Or Flying Termites
Alates (swarmers) have wings and hard exoskeletons that may be very dark in color. Additionally, flying and swarming termites can be recognized by their prominent wings. Flying termites have two sets of wings of equal length, and these wings are almost twice the size of the termite’s body. Termite swarmers appear to have two body segments with a straight abdomen, and straight antennae.

Subterranean Worker and Soldier

Termite Look Alikes
Some homeowners may confuse flying ants and flying termites. Pest control experts are trained to distinguish between these two insects based on differences in their appearance.

Can You See Termites with the Human Eye?
While the pests are small, termites are visible with the human eye. Winged termites, or swarmers, are somewhat larger than workers and can be more easily spotted. This is helpful since homeowners are most likely to encounter swarmers, which take flight during mating season to look for new nesting sites.

Identifying Termites by their Habitats

Knowing where termites live helps homeowners identify infestations.

Dampwood termites, for example, are found in areas with moist climates; however, these termites can be found in areas of the home where water leaks occur. They typically set up colonies in damp basements or bathrooms.

Nevada Dampwood Soldier

On the other hand, drywood termites are found in dry environments of the coastal, southeastern and southwestern portions of the U.S. Drywood termites typically live in undamaged, dry wood of houses and apartments.

Drywood Termite Worker

Identifying Damage

Since the pests eat cellulose found in wood, termites destroy, walls, furniture, and other wooden materials in homes. The damage they do may appear in the form of sagging floors and ceilings or infested wood might look water damaged. Additionally, homeowners may find piles of sawdust, mud tubes or the shed wings of swarmers.

Professional Identification

While you should regularly monitor for pest activity, you should contact a trained professional for termite identification, prevention and treatment. Pest control experts can distinguish between termites and other insects, and identify termites by species to make sure prevention and treatment techniques target that specific species- unique behavior.

www.orkin.com

How to identify termites

Termites are very small and similar in size to ants, which often leads to confusion. Owing to their secretive nature, termites can be hard to detect, especially with an untrained eye. You are actually far more likely to spot the signs of termite damage before you spot termites themselves.

Termite species vary in habits, preferred food, size, body characteristics, colour and even parts of their lifecycle. There are some general characteristics, however, that are similar and can be used to identify termites and tell them from ants or other insects.

This page describes the different life stages and castes of termites and shows you how to tell flying termites from flying ants.

Need help >Call Rentokil today for advice and to schedule a termite inspection of your property.

What do termites look like?

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.

Termites have several stages in their life cycle from egg to adult and they also have different types, called castes, which have different roles in the nest and look different. Therefore it is important to recognise the different types of termite that are present in one colony.

Termite life cycle

Termites have three main developmental stages, unlike ants which have four. They undergo what is termed incomplete metamorphosis, which has no pupal stage:

  • Egg
  • Nymph/ larva: these resemble small adults on hatching
  • Adult: queen, king, reproductives, workers, soldiers

Development is controlled by pheromones produced by the queen and one caste can develop into another caste, depending on the termite species and the requirements of the colony.

Termite eggs are white or light brown and translucent. They are tiny but visible to the naked eye. They are usually in a central location in the termite colony, in the carton nest built above ground, galleries tunnelled in the ground or in galleries tunnelled out of wood, depending on the species.

In some species the eggs go through four moulting stages

Nymph or larva

The eggs hatch to produce nymphs that are cared for by the young workers. The young nymphs are sometimes referred to as larvae and then nymphs after several moults. The termite larvae and nymphs resemble miniature adults.

The nymphs differentiate into reproductives, workers or soldiers.

Termite nymph reproductives

These nymphs have larger bodies than the other castes and also have eyes. There are two types, long winged and short winged.

Long winged termite nymph

The long-winged termite nymphs have eyes and wing buds that eventually develop into full wings. They are male and female and will develop into the alates that swarm when the weather is suitable. It may take several years for a new termite colony to produce alates.

Short-winged termite nymph

A small percentage of termite larvae develop into short-winged termite nymphs. They also have eyes but their wings do not develop further.

These develop into the neotenics (see below), which are one of the reproductive types and have the ability to produce eggs in the colony in certain situations.

Termite reproductives

Reproductives, as the name suggests are the castes with the ability to mate. They have functional sexual organs and the females can produce eggs when the queen dies or its influence is reduced.

Alates are the winged male and female reproductives that swarm out from the nest at certain times of the year or the rainy season. Males and females pair off and land to look for a nesting site.

Shortly after landing they snap their wings off and either excavate a small chamber in the soil (subterranean termites) or find suitable timber to create a nest (dampwood and drywood termites) then mate and produce eggs. It may take several years before the next generation of alates are produced in a new colony.

Termite queen and king

When in the new nest the male and female are regarded as the queen and king. They do not emerge again from the nest and may live for several decades. The queen feeds and tends to the hatched nymphs until they mature into workers. The workers then take over the caring and feeding of the young nymphs and also groom and feed the queen. The abdomen of the queen grows so large that it cannot move from its position in the middle of the nest, so will not be seen unless a nest is broken open.

These are secondary reproductives and can develop from nymphs or other castes (depending on termite species) when the influence of the queen reduces or disappears. This could be when the queen dies, when the colony grows large and the queen is aging or when a satellite colony is established separate from the main one. The queen produces chemicals called pheromones that are passed around the colony and prevent the other reproductives from developing functional reproductive organs.

In some termite species the queen produces neotenics by parthenogenesis (asexual reproduction) when it is old and egg production is insufficient to maintain the colony. These neotenics are genetically identical to the queen and means the queen is “genetically immortal” until the colony dies out.

Termite worker

The workers make up the largest number in a colony and are the caste that is seen when a nest or infested wood is broken open. They have a pale brown, soft body, no eyes or wings, and hard mouthparts for chewing wood. They are both male and female but are sterile. The young workers feed and groom the other castes and care for the young. The older workers excavate or build the nest, construct the tunnels and forage for food which they bring back to the nest and feed to the other termites.

In some species, such as the invasive West Indian drywood termite (Cryptotermes brevis) there are no true workers. The young soldiers, which are called pseudergates, act as workers until they mature and then become fully fledged soldiers.

Termite soldier

Soldiers defend the colony against attack by predatory enemies such as ants. They are eyeless, soft bodied and wingless. In some species the soldiers have an enlarged head with large mandibles (jaws) for defence. In species of the Nasutitermitinae subfamily the soldiers have a snout, called the nasus, which can spray a repellent liquid. These soldiers are usually smaller than the workers. Soldiers are unable to feed themselves and are fed by the workers.

What is the difference between ants and termites?

Termites are similar in size to ants, which often leads to confusion, especially in their winged stage. Termites are highly unlikely to be seen crawling around your property unless they are in the winged stage, the alates, or have just shed their wings.

The other termite stages cannot survive long outside the protective humid atmosphere of their nests or tunnels because their soft bodies dry out quickly. There are species of termite that forage in the open, feeding on plant matter such as dead grass, leaves, twigs or lichen, but they require humid conditions, are mostly found in remote areas and are not pests of buildings.

Ants come into our homes looking for the food that we eat, such as sweet foods and protein sources, whereas the pest termites feed on wood and other cellulose sources such as paper. In fact ants are the main predators of termites, with some species of ant highly adapted to attacking ants and even co-habiting termite nests.

The alate phase of termites and ants, also called swarmers, cause the most confusion especially if they appear at similar times. Different species of both termites and ants swarm at different times — of the day or year — so there is no fixed rule for distinguishing them in this way. On close examination, however, you can easily tell the difference, as shown in the graphic and description below

  • Waist:
    • Termites have a straight ‘waist’ between the thorax and abdomen
    • Ants have a pinched waist
  • Abdomen:
    • Termites have a blunt end to their abdomen
    • Most ant species have a sharp end which can sting or spray toxic chemicals
  • Antennae:
    • Termites have straight antennae
    • Ants have bent antennae
  • Wing length of alates:
    • Termite front and rear wings are of equal length and longer than the body
    • The front wings of ants are a similar length to their body and longer than the rear pair
  • Colour:
    • The bodies of termites workers and soldiers are beige or tan coloured in most species and the alates are brown
    • Ants are mostly red or black

Identifying termite species

Different species of termites have different habits and pose different risks to your property. Some species are more voracious eaters than others, so can inflict more damage in a shorter time.

Dampwood and drywood termites live and breed inside the wood they are feeding on, whereas subterranean termites build their nests in the ground or near sources of moisture above ground and send out the workers to forage for wood sources. They construct mud tubes when foraging above ground, to protect themselves from dehydration and from predators.

It is therefore important to identify which species is present to plan the most effective strategy for eradication, monitoring and future protection.

The location of your property as well as its component structure will both have an impact on the termite species that you may be at risk of. Generally speaking, incidence of termite infestation is much higher in the hotter climates of Australia such as Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns and Sydney.

At Rentokil, we confirm the invading termite species through a visual identification of the insects themselves rather than just looking at the evidence of the damage to your building and its location.

Find out more about the main termite pest species present in Australia

How to identify termites from their damage

The different types of termite have different ‘signatures’ in the way that they damage your timber. The points below explaining the difference between subterranean and drywood termites could be of help when checking your building for signs of activity:

Subterranean termites

Subterranean termites begin feeding on timber from the ground up and mostly 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 subterranean termites has ‘galleries’ (hollow tunnels) that run along the grain of the wood as it is softer and easier to eat.

Drywood termites

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 below — the termites push their droppings out of their galleries to keep them clean.
Frass looks like sawdust, but on close inspection is composed of even-sized grains with six sides. Probing the wood above the frass may also expose termite galleries and the nest below a thin skin of wood or paint.

See the termite species page for more information on subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites.

Termite proof your property

A termite infestation can result in costly repairs to your property. Having experienced a termite infestation, most people will be eager to ensure they do not have the same problem in the future.

Rentokil are the experts in protecting homes, commercial buildings and institutions such as schools, hospitals and care homes. We offer comprehensive inspection, treatment and prevention services.

www.rentokil.com.au

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