Termite Identification: What Do Termites Look Like?

Identifying termites can be the first step in determining if you have an infestation. Identification is also a key to treating the infestation, as different termites respond to different treatments. There are three major groups of termites that can infest your home: subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. Here are some facts to help you distinguish them.

Subterranean termites are found underground in nests. The adults, or swarmers, are typically the termites that you will see above ground. These termites are black or dark-brown and resemble a flying ant. They are about 3/8ths of an inch in length with translucent wings. Other swarmers in subterranean termite species can be yellow to brown in color. Termite soldiers in this species are white or creamy-white with very large heads that are darker in color. They also have very large mandibles, or jaws, to help protect the colony. Workers are creamy-white and smaller, with no wings.

Drywood termites are slightly larger than subterranean termites. They are dull-brown to yellowish-brown in color, depending on the species. Their wings are very distinct with 3 dark veins running through them. The soldiers have flat, sloping heads, and their mandibles sometimes will curve under their heads. They also have an uneven number of teeth. Drywood termite workers resemble subterranean workers in their color and size. Drywood termites infest wood above ground, usually furniture or wood trim on homes. They build their nests inside this wood, so they have no contact with the soil.

Dampwood termites prefer wood with high moisture content. They also live in wood that is decayed or rotten. Swarmers can be up to an inch in length. Dampwood termite adults are light to dark brown in color. They have veined wings similar to drywood termites. The soldiers in the group are also larger than other soldiers, up to ¾'s of an inch long. Workers resemble other termite species workers, as well.