What Does a Termite Look Like?

Ever ask yourself, what does a termite look like?

Termites come in over 2,000 different species, with over 40 found in the United States alone. Although they have individual traits, most of them appear to be the same. They normally measure between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch long and have soft bodies with straight antennae. The queens and kings are larger, reaching lengths of nearly one inch. Worker termites are lighter in color than swarming termites, ranging from white to light brown. The reproductives, or flying termites, have two pairs of conspicuous wings.


Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites are substantially larger than subterranean termites found throughout the United States. In the United States, there are multiple species of Dampwood termites. 

Swarmers: The swarmers (winged termites) can reach 25 mm long, including their wings. 

Soldiers: Soldiers can be up to 20 mm in size. 

Workers: Immature termites can grow up to 20 mm in length. The immature termites do the colony’s tasks. 

  • Habitat 

The wet, sometimes decaying wood that termites utilize to locate their colonies gives them their name. Dampwood termites don’t usually build their nests in the ground. They will eat ground-level timber, particularly if it is deteriorating. 

  • Distribution 

Dampwood termites are often found in the Southwest desert and southern Florida. Along the Pacific coast, damp wood termites are common. 

  • Life Cycle & Reproduction 

Termite colonies are typically modest, but Dampwood termite colonies can grow to be quite enormous in ideal circumstances. A pair of winged swarmers begin a colony of Dampwood termites. They locate an appropriate piece of wood and carve a room out of it. The first year, they only lay a few eggs. There are no termite workers in the Dampwood. 


Termites are estimated to wreak over a billion dollars in damage to homes in the United States each year. Although fires, hurricanes, and tornadoes are typically covered by homeowner insurance policies, termite damage is not. Termite infestations are also under-reported, leading many homeowners to believe no preventative actions are required.



Subterranean Termites

What are the characteristics of subterranean termites?

Because worker termites across groups tend to appear the same, you’ll need to look at the soldiers and the alates, the winged, unmated reproductive caste, if you’re seeking to classify a specific termite colony into a group. The appearance of the damaged timber they eat is also crucial.

Damaged wood frequently accumulates silt or muck within the tunnels of the wood they are devouring because subterranean termites make their nests underground. Because subterranean termites only eat softwood, damaged wood seems to be layered, owing to the workers’ failure to consume the hardwood section. Furthermore, unlike Drywood termites, subterranean termites feed “with the grain” rather than “across the grain.”

As its group name suggests, the nest is frequently found below the earth. Nests can be discovered above ground, but only if the colony is old and well established and enough moisture to support the above-ground nest.

  • Habitat

They live in underground colonies, where they dig tunnels in quest of food; they can reach food above ground level by building mud tubes and relying on moisture to survive.

  • Diet

Wood and other cellulose-based materials make up the diet.

  • Reproduction

Individual species have different growth rates from egg to adult; each colony has one primary queen, who can lay tens of thousands of eggs in her lifetime, but supplementary reproductives can also lay eggs in an established colony. Learn more about the reproduction of subterranean termites.

  • Distribution

Subterranean termites can be found all over the United States. However, they are more common in the northern states. They are more common in the warm, southern states. They do, however, exist in all states except Alaska. They’re most common between Florida and Southern California, where it’s humid and subtropical.
Additional Information

The termite control experts at The Bug’s End are better suited to take preventative actions that might save households a lot of money. If you’re building a new house, especially one in a high-risk location, it’s good to get termite-proofing estimates from reputable contractors. Experts in pest management will also offer advice on how to avoid termite infestation.



Dampwood vs. Subterranean

Dampwood termites build their nests on moist and even decomposing wood. Termites prefer wood that is in contact with the soil or consistently damp as a nesting place. They’re common throughout the Pacific Coast and in the Southwest. They can also be found in the state of Florida. Dampwood termites may be attracted to your home if it has leaky plumbing or other moisture issues.

Formosan Termites

Because Formosan termite workers resemble workers from other termite species, the castes of soldiers and winged alates help determine the right identification.

Because distinguishing Formosan termites from other termite groups is difficult, it is essential to consult a pest management professional for assistance in making an accurate identification.

A Formosan termite soldier’s head is oblong, but the heads of indigenous subterranean termites are rectangular. Formosan termite soldiers are also more aggressive than native subterranean termite troops when protecting the nest.

When the soldiers are disturbed, they discharge a white liquid utilized for defense.


The alates, or swarmers, are yellowish-brown and roughly ½ inch long. Alates have a dense covering of tiny hairs on their normally translucent wings.

  • Habitat

Formosan termites are species of subterranean termites that build their homes underground. They infiltrate structures directly from the earth through wood-to-ground contact or mud tubes built from the soil. Formosan termites can also build a carton that keeps moisture in the nest. This may enable them to construct nests that do not require them to return to the soil, as most subterranean termites do.

  • Diet

They eat cellulose-based materials like wood, as do all termites.

  • Life Cycle & Reproduction

A queen who can lay over 1,000 eggs every day lives in a colony. They mate and establish new colonies. New colonies are established when winged men and females are freed from the colony and swarm.

Introduction to the United States of America

Formosan termites are native to East Asia and were brought to the United States after WWII in the 1940s. Formosan termites were assumed to have infiltrated the country through several ports, resulting in uneven populations. On cargo shipments of wood and other cellulose-based commodities, their numbers have continued to grow across the United States. According to most scientists, Formosan termites are thought to be propagated by contaminated wooden railroad stakes.

Geographical Range and Distribution

Formosan termites love warm temperatures and can be found in large numbers throughout the American South. The Formosan termite, also known as an introduced subterranean termite, can be found in Alabama, Florida, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee. They have, however, been found in smaller groups as far north as the Canadian border.


Our Treatment

Today, there are approximately 2,300 species of termite have been identified. However, more than 50 different species have been discovered in the United States. Deserts and rainforests are home to many tropical and subtropical climates. They are responsible for an average of $1 billion in property damage per year and infest 350,000 structures.

If you suspect you may have a termite problem, and you’re in the Longview, TX area, CONTACT the experts at The Bug’s End TODAY! 

(903) 399-4497