What Do Termites Look Like?

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Learn How to Identify Termites and How to Get Rid of Them

Think you might be dealing with a termite infestation, but not sure what termites look like? You’re not alone.

At Home Pest Control, we offer an online pest identification tool that makes it easier than ever to determine what kind of pest you’ve encountered in your home. We understand that it can be difficult to identify a pest on your own, though -- and we’re here to help! If you’re still not certain about whether or not you have termites after using the pest identification tool, you can upload a photo of the pest via our pest ID form. One of our technicians will take a look and get back to you right away.


Being able to correctly identify termites in your home is important. Termites aren’t just a bothersome pest: they’re downright dangerous for the structural integrity of your home. A termite infestation can quickly lead to thousands of dollars in damage to your foundation. That’s why it’s so essential to correctly determine whether or not you have termites, and take proper measures for termite treatment if needed.


What Do Termites Look Like?

Identifying termites doesn’t have to be complicated. Aside from the information contained in our pest identification tool, here are some quick tips for identifying whether the pest you’re dealing with is actually a termite:

  • Length: Termites range in size between 1/8" and 1” in length.
  • Color: Typically shades of brown, black, or white, depending on the species and stage of development.
  • Characteristics: Straight ‘waist,’ two sets of wings.

Homeowners often confuse termites with ants. However, there’s one easy way to distinguish between the two: while ants have two sets of wings, each set different in length, termites have two sets of wings with equal length. Additionally, termites have straight antennae and indistinctly segmented bodies, while ants have bent antennae and easily identifiable body segments.


Where Do Termites Live?

Termites are found throughout the United States. They’re more common in southeastern states, however, and tend to be less prevalent in northern states. Infestations are often the worst in states with warm, humid climates -- and that includes South Carolina.

Termites’ preference for warmth and humidity also determines where they’re typically found in and around your home. Termites live in colonies, and they establish their colonies in warm, humid places with access to food. Since termites feed on the cellulose found in plants and trees, they often take up residence in old, rotting wood, which can include older wooden parts of your home.


Types of Termite Species

In the southeastern United States, there are three broad categories of termites you typically encounter: subterranean, drywood, and dampwood termites. Each of these types includes multiple subspecies. The ‘worker’ termites in each group tend to look very similar, which means that you’ll need to examine the ‘soldier’ and ‘alate’ (winged, reproductive caste that tend to swarm) termites to determine which species you’re dealing with.

Subterranean termite alates have dark brown or black bodies which measure 1/4" to 1/2" in length. Soldiers have no wings, large jaws, and are usually an offwhite color with a brown head.

Drywood termite alates have a front set of wings with clearly visible ‘veins’ in the outer part of the wing, and can be up to 1/2" in length. Soldiers have a ‘pronotum’ (a large, plate-like structure covering the thorax) which is typically wider than their head.

Dampwood termites are significantly larger than subterranean termites. Alates can measure up to 1” in length, while soldiers are slightly shorter (but still larger than subterranean termites).


Signs of Termite Damage

Signs of termite damage will tend to vary based on what type of species you’re dealing with.

iStock-183836784As their name implies, subterranean termites tunnel into your home from underground and begin eating through its structure from the bottom up. This means that it’s common to find signs of subterranean termite damage in crawl spaces, as well as throughout your home’s substructure. Damaged wood will include visible, hollow tunnels where the termites have eaten through the cellulose.

Meanwhile, drywood termites usually enter your home at a higher elevation, often along the roof line. This means that you may encounter drywood termite damage in your attic. Drywood termites typically make tiny holes in wood, producing a sawdust-like material called “frass.”


Professional Termite Control

If you aren’t yet experiencing a termite infestation, one of the best ways to prevent termites involves reducing moisture in and around your home. Termites need moisture to survive, and they’re particularly drawn to moist, rotting wood. Installing a dehumidifier in your basement and repairing leaky pipes and faucets can be helpful in reducing moisture. Additionally, sealing up weather stripping and various cracks and crevices around your home can make it harder for some species of termites to infiltrate your home’s structure.

If you think you’re dealing with a termite infestation, however, it’s essential that you contact a professional pest control specialist: don’t try to get rid of termites on your own.

Home Pest Control offers comprehensive termite and pest control services in South Carolina. Once we’ve eliminated any existing termites in your home, our Home Shield Termite Protection program will ensure that you never have to worry about termites again.

Beyond controlling termites, our Home Shield Premier Protection program offers additional pest prevention services, including fire ant control. Our team of skilled technicians have the knowledge and experience necessary to safeguard your home, all while using environmentally friendly methods that are safe for you and your family.

Not sure whether you’re dealing with termites? We can help! Click here to schedule a termite inspection today.

Schedule a termite inspection today. Click to learn more!

October 14, 2019

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