Below are pictures and descriptions of the most common termites found in and around your home or office. Click any picture you wish to enlarge. You’ll find a DO-IT-YOURSELF self help section at the end of each description.
Dampwood termites do not infest homes and they have very small colonies. I’ve only found them in rotten tree stumps. They are large by comparison to other local termites. Workers are up to 1/2″ in length with swarmers at nearly 3/4″ in length. DO-IT-YOURSELF: No remedy needed as they decompose tree stumps and return the nutrients back to the soil.
Drywood Termite Feces
Drywood Termite feces is very small and are bead like droppings. Under the microscope they look like corn. The color varies depending on the species of wood being consumed. Generally speaking, the harder the wood, the darker the droppings. These are probably from fir. Drywood termites leave their droppings in the wood until the galleries are full. The termite then chews a small hole through to the surface and pushes the feces out. An active infestation will have a reoccuring feces pattern about every 3 weeks. An inactive infestation will shed droppings with no particular pattern and fall out from vibration and temperature changes.
Drywood Termite Soldier
This is the mandables of a Drywood Termite soldier. It may look fierce, but this termite is very small, about 1/4″ in length. They do not bite humans. Their function is to defend the colony by sensing a predator. They strike blindly in the direction of disturbance because they do not have eyes. There are about 1 soldier to every 6 workers. The workers rely completely on the soldiers for defense. The soldiers rely completely on the workers to feed them because their mandables do not allow them to feed directly on wood.
Eastern Subterranean Termite Soldiers
These are Eastern Subterranean Termite workers and soldiers. Eastern subterranean termites are very damaging to homes. They do more damage annually than fires, floods and tornados combined. Their colonies are mostly in the ground and can grow into the hundreds of thousands. The workers are about 1/8″ in length and soldiers are about 3/16″ in length. They consume wood at the rate of about 1/3 their body weight per day. Damage can be minor for a small colony and rapid for a large colony.
Eastern Subterranean Swarmer
These are Eastern Subterranean termite swarmers. Many people mix these up with ants or ask for a tent when they swarm. Both are a bad idea. Since neither will control the problem. These swarmers are about 5/16″ in length with wings attached. The body is black and does not have 3 clearly visible segments. They swarm in the late winter to spring. They swarm when the temperature rises to about 72F to 75F degrees between the hours of 10am and 2pm. They swarm during the day and fly towards the nearest light at the time of the swarm. After they fly, they break off their wings and look for a mate. They need 3 conditions to survive inside. A suitable mate, dirt and water. Nearly all interior swarmers die since these conditions generally don’t exist. They will not infest furniture. They can repeat this swarm sequence several times before it ends. Be advised, the swarmers are harmless, but are an indication of an infestation that is continuing. DO-IT-YOURSELF: It is important for you to have a general understanding of construction if you are trying to tackle subterranean termites. They enter the structure typically from the ground up through expansion joints or plumbing. They enter through openings as small as 1/32″. Look for dirt on the walls, ceiling or floor near the area of the swarmers. Remember, the swarmers fly towards light. It could be from the opposite side of the room. Control is achieved by drilling and injecting a termiticide into the soil that leads to the area of passage. We recommend Termidor® termiticide.
Eastern Subterranean Termite Workers
Eastern subterranean termite workers are responsible for all the damage associated with an infestation. The workers are small, about 1/8″ in length and creamy white in color. They consume about 1/3 their body weight of wood per day.
Formosan Subterranean Termite
Formosan Subterranean termites are not very common to our area and seemed to be loosing ground. Their colonies are larger in size than the native eastern subterranean termites. Formosan subterranean termites have more soldiers to workers ratio as compared to the native species. The soldiers have a unique defense mechanism whereby they secrete a white sticky substance from an opening in their head called a fontanel. The Formosan subterranean termites swarm from April to July at dusk. Though Formosan subterranean termites are subterranean their need for water is much less than the native species and it is common to have aerial colonies. DO-IT-YOURSELF: Any attempt to do subterranean termite control requires a basic knowledge of structural engineering. See Eastern subterranean termite for control.
West Indian Drywood Termites
West Indian Drywood termites are a common pest that affect our homes and offices. It is also known as a powderpost termite. The workers are about 1/4″ in length with the soldier slighly smaller. They can be a serious threat if not treated. Colonies are relatively small by comparison to subterranean termites. The soldiers mandables face down by comparison to other termites which protrude forward. They face down because the soldier blocks the entry by placing their head in the hole. This termite is tropical and not found in nature north of the freeze line unless transported in furniture or other wood. DO-IT-YOURSELF: There are 3 ways to cure an infestation. Discard the infested piece, drill and inject their galleries or fumigate. Discarding is the most effective as the colony is in the piece of wood. Drill a small hole into the infested wood to find a gallery. Inject a penetrating oil, like WD40. Last choice is fumigation. Sorry you can’t do this yourself.
West Indian Drywood Termite Swarmer
West Indian Drywood Termites swarm in the summer. They fly at night towards a light source therefore the location of the infestation is not usually in the location of the swarmers. The swarmers are not very good at flight and most will die following a swarm if they do not find a suitable mate and the right conditions. A couple of items to note. If you only have a wing, the veins within the termite wing is very light and not very noticable. Ant wings have clearly visible veins. Another notable wing difference is the cross vein of the forewing is angular from vein to vein on drywood termites and perpindicular or none on subterranean termites. If you only have a body to identify, drywood termite antennae are beaded from the head to the end and are straight, ants have a beaded end section and are elbowed halfway out from the head. DO-IT-YOURSELF: Reduce exposure by limiting the attractive light. Use motion detector lighting, close curtains or blinds at night. You may also introduce them to your home in used furniture. The fecel pellets are locked into the termite galleries and sounds like sand in the wood when you shake it. If so, discard the piece or follow the drill and inject method listed above.
West Indian Drywood Termite Soldier
West Indian Drywood Termite soldiers are unusual because their mandables face down and their face is flat. They use their head to block breaches in the galleries keeping predators out during fecel removal.