Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites (family Rhinotermitidae) are a highly destructive group of termites known for their ability to build underground nests and cause significant damage to wooden structures. Identifying subterranean termites can be challenging, as they are often hidden from view. However, there are several key characteristics and signs that can help you identify their presence:

  • Size:
    • Subterranean termites are small insects, with workers typically measuring about 1/8 inch (3-4 millimeters) in length.
    • Swarmers (reproductive adults) are larger, usually around 3/8 to 1/2 inch (9-13 millimeters) long.
  • Coloration:
    • Subterranean termite workers are creamy white to pale yellow in color.
    • Soldiers have slightly darker, elongated heads with large mandibles (jaws).
    • Swarmers (reproductives) are dark brown to black and have translucent wings.
  • Antennae:
    • Both workers and soldiers have straight, bead-like antennae.
  • Wings:
    • The reproductive swarmers have two pairs of wings of equal length, and these wings are easily shed after swarming.
  • Behavior:
    • Subterranean termites are social insects that live in colonies, typically underground.
    • They construct mud tubes or tunnels made of soil, saliva, and feces, which they use to maintain a humid environment and access their food source (wood).
  • Habitat:
    • Subterranean termites are widespread and found in various regions worldwide.
    • They are most commonly associated with damp and humid environments.
    • They infest wood in contact with soil, such as the foundation of buildings, wooden structures, and fallen trees.
  • Damage:
    • The presence of subterranean termites is often detected by the damage they cause to wooden structures.
    • They feed on the cellulose in wood, which can lead to hollowed-out, damaged wood with a honeycomb-like appearance.
  • Swarming:
    • Subterranean termites reproduce by swarming. During swarming season, reproductive swarmers may emerge from the colony in search of a mate.
    • These swarms are typically a sign of an established termite colony nearby.
  • Mud Tubes:
    • Subterranean termites build mud tubes or shelter tubes to connect their underground nests to food sources.
    • These tubes are typically about the width of a pencil and may be seen along foundation walls, in crawl spaces, or on wooden structures.

If you suspect you have subterranean termites in or around your property, it’s crucial to contact a pest control professional for a thorough inspection and appropriate treatment. Early detection and intervention are essential to prevent extensive damage to wooden structures and to effectively eliminate the termite colony.

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