What do Termites Look Like?

Termites are some of the worst pests imaginable. All pests are undesirable, obviously, but unlike other insects, termites can also cause significant property damage. Indeed, it’s estimated that termites cause roughly $30 billion in property damage in the U.S. alone. It’s no exaggeration to suggest that termites can basically destroy a home in a matter of months. 

Given all that, it’s crucial for homeowners to be able to recognize termites when they see them. So what do termites look like? In brief, termites are small insects that range from ¼-½ of an inch long, and they are characterized by their soft, thick bodies, short legs, and straight antennae. They’re small, but can still be seen with the human eye. Termites come in a range of colors, from white to gray, to reddish-brown. 

Different Species of Termites

There are over 2,000 different species of termite in the world today. While many share similar physical characteristics, different termite species may come in different colors, sizes, or shapes. The most common termite is the Eastern Subterranean Termite. Other common termites include the Dampwood, Drywood, and Formosan termites. 

Termite Castes

Not only do different species of termites have slightly different appearances, but within individual species, physical variations occur based on termite class or “caste.” There are three different castes within a colony: workers, soldiers, and reproductive termites. 

In general, worker termites are the smallest of the three and are often lighter in color. Soldier termites look similar to worker termites, though they’re usually a little bigger. The most distinguishing feature of the soldier termite is a large “jaw” or mandible located near its head. Fully mature soldier termites may have wings. Reproductive termites, or alates, are the largest of the three and sport two sets of equal-sized wings. Alates often show up before other termite castes –– so their appearance could signify the presence of a nearby colony. (For reference, a colony may contain more than a million individual termites, and some colony queens can live for up to 15 years.)

Termites vs Other Pests

Termites may appear similar to some species of ant. However, ants differ from termites in several key ways. Ants have slightly thinner bodies, bent antennae, and longer legs. Also, when ants have wings, their front wings will be longer than the pair at the back. 

Identifying Termite Damage

It’s worth noting that homeowners may notice signs of termite damage before they encounter any actual termites since termites can exist in hard-to-find places within a home. As such, homeowners should lookout for any of the following signs of termite damage, including: 

  • Discolored drywall.
  • Peeling paint. 
  • Wood that makes a hollow sound when tapped. 
  • Small holes in drywall.
  • Swollen or uneven floors or ceilings. 
  • Stuck or jammed doors or windows. 
  • Squeaky floors.

It may come as a surprise to some, but termites don’t actually leave piles of sawdust in their wake. Rather, termites don’t burrow through wood but eat it as part of their diet. 

Contact the Pros

It doesn’t take long for a termite infestation to become a massive problem for a homeowner. So if you’re concerned about the presence of termites in or around your home, make sure to contact the pros at Envision. We have the tools and the skills to meet all of your pest control needs. 

Contact Envision Today