Explore the world beneath your feet: Find out what does a subterranean termite look like? with detailed descriptions and prevention tips.
1. What does a Subterranean Termite look like?
Subterranean termites, fascinating insects, are classified into three main types: reproductives, workers, and soldiers, each with a distinct appearance.
The reproductives, which help the colony grow, include the king, queen, and alates (also called swarmers).
The queen, being the largest, and the king, slightly smaller, are key reproductive figures.
Alates have long, dark bodies and see-through wings with a milky look. They measure about a quarter to half an inch in length, with wings that may feature fine hairs. Workers and soldiers don’t have wings.
Workers are smaller, less than a quarter inch, and light in color. They have tiny jaws for eating wood and moving stuff around. Soldiers are known for their big jaws and have blocky heads. Their bodies are flat and wide, mostly light-colored, but their heads are darker.
2. Indicators of An Infestation
Signs of a subterranean termite infestation can appear inside or outside your home. Here are some clues to watch for:
- Mud Tubes: These are like long, narrow tunnels made from wood and soil on the outside walls of your home. Termites build them to stay moist while they move around.
- Hollow-Sounding Wood: If you tap on wood in your house and it sounds empty, it might be because termites have eaten away at it.
- Changes in Wood: Look for wood that looks darker or has blisters – signs that termites might be feeding on it.
- Paint Issues: If your paint is bubbling or looks uneven, it could be due to termites.
- Tiny Feces Piles: These look like sawdust and can be found near where termites are nesting.
- Discarded Wings: Finding small wings near doors or windowsills is a sign that termite swarmers have come in and started an infestation.
3. Methods for eliminating Subterranean Termites
To get rid of subterranean termites, it’s best to focus on preventing them in the first place. Here are some effective methods:
- Stop Water Build-up: Termites love moisture, so keep water away from your home’s foundation. Make sure things like downspouts and gutters work well and use splash blocks to direct water away.
- Reduce Humidity in Crawl Spaces: Good ventilation in crawl spaces helps lower humidity, which termites don’t like.
- Avoid Burying Wood: Don’t bury wood scraps or waste lumber in your yard, as this can attract termites.
- Seal Cracks and Openings: Check your home’s foundation for any cracks or gaps and seal them up to prevent termites from entering.
- Keep Wood Away from Soil: Make sure there’s at least a one-inch gap between any wood parts of your building and the soil. This helps stop termites from reaching the wood easily.
4. Colonies and Behavior of Subterranean Termites
Subterranean termites are fascinating social insects that live in structured colonies with different roles: reproductives, workers, and soldiers.
- Reproductives (Queen and King): They mate and increase the colony’s population. The queen is the biggest termite and is crucial for the colony, laying up to 1,000 eggs per day.
- Workers: This is the largest group in a termite colony. They repair the nest, care for each other, and find food.
- Soldiers: They have big, armored heads and strong jaws to protect the colony. Soldiers and workers usually live for one to two years, while the queen can live for many years.
Each year, “swarmers” or winged adults leave their colony to start new ones. Initially, they lay just a few eggs, but as the new queen matures, she can lay about 5,000-10,000 eggs annually. It often takes 5-10 years for a colony to grow large, sometimes reaching over 60,000 termites.
A mature subterranean termite colony can have 60,000 to two million workers, who constantly eat wood thanks to their sharp jaws. They feed not only on wood but also on anything with cellulose.
These termites usually swarm in spring in the U.S., and late winter in Florida. This is when they set out to form new colonies. Swarming often happens during the day, especially after warm, rainy weather. In heated buildings, smaller swarms can even occur in winter.
In conclusion, now you know exactly “What does a subterranean termite look like.” Armed with this knowledge, you can protect your home with confidence.
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Calina Mabel has over 15 years of experience in the field of journalism and communications. Currently, Calina Mabel is the Content Writer for categories such as Cockroach, Ants, Bed Bugs, Mosquito, Rodent, Termite, and Flies on Pestweek.com. She aims to build content for these categories with a focus on providing valuable and accessible information to readers, in order to create the world’s largest knowledge community about Pests.
All content written by Calina Mabel has been reviewed by Emily Carter.