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Eastern Subterranean Termite Facts & Information

Protect your home or business from eastern subterranean termites by learning techniques for identification and control.

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How do I get rid of eastern subterranean termites?

What Orkin Does

It's always advised to call your local pest management professional (PMP) as soon as an infestation is suspected. Common control methods invovle removing termite food sources, fixing or repairing entry points, and reducing moisture around the home are good preventative measures to keep Eastern subterranean termites away. Some other recommended control methods your PMP will suggest include:

  • Secure wood piles: Keep wood piles off the ground and don’t allow any ground contact. Inspect firewood to ensure that termites have not constructed exploratory mud tubes and found your firewood.

  • Avoiding wood-to-ground contact: If possible, replace any construction wood that contacts the soil (deck and fence posts, etc.) with materials that are non-cellulose or pressure treated. Also, never allow any wooden siding to contact the soil surface. Maintain at least six inches or more of space between siding and the ground. Do not put mulch on the ground next to the foundation. If you want to use mulch around the home, be sure to provide a "no mulch" zone that is at least one to two feet wide since mulch allows the soil to hold more moisture.

  • Replacing damaged wood: Replace severely damaged wood with sound construction materials. Use pressure-treated wood at surfaces where wood must be in contact with soil.

  • Cleaning up fallen vegetation: If a tree blows down, grind down the stump and roots; never simply let a stump remain in place. If a shrub dies, dig it out and remove all the woody parts and roots of the dead shrub.

  • Trimming and thinning plants: Do not let landscaping plants touch the siding or get too thick around the foundation. Not only does this make a friendly environment for termites, it also makes it more difficult to inspect for signs of a termite problem.

  • Guarding against moisture: Ensure there are no plumbing leaks, water from air conditioner condensation, leaking gutters, and that downspouts direct water away from the house, not close to the foundation. Provide ventilation and drainage in the crawl spaces under the house.

  • Repairing possible entryways:If you notice a crack in the foundation, repair with concrete or heavy duty, durable caulking materials.

Your local Orkin Pro is trained to help manage Eastern subterranean termites and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin Pro will design a termite treatment unique program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep Eastern subterranean termites in their place…out of your home, or business.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Understanding Eastern Subterranean Termites


Eastern subterranean termites are social insects that organize into very functional colony structures. Each colony member or caste performs very specific and specialized functions for the overall success of the colony. These colonies are made up of three castes:

  1. Workers

  2. Soldiers

  3. Reproductives


The workers are the cream-colored caste that consumes cellulose and feeds the colony.

Eastern Subterranean Termite Worker

Eastern Subterranean Termite Worker


The soldiers are about 1/4 inch-long protectors of the colony. Soldiers are equipped with large jaws that they use to combat colony intruders.

Eastern Subterranean Termite Soldier

Eastern Subterranean Termite Soldier


The alates are winged termites or “swarmers” that leave the colony and establish new colonies. The male and female alates leave the colony in the spring, mate after leaving the colony, construct a new colony, and then become the primary king and queen of this new colony. Fortunately, extremely few alates actually succeed in establishing new colonies.


The reproductive caste is made up of the primary queens and males (kings) that stay within the colony for life. The secondary reproductives are important during times of colony stress or conditions unfavorable to the success of the colony.

Alate queens and kings are black or dark brown, about 3/8 to a half inch long, and have two pairs of wings that are lost after a termite swarm. Generally, the appearance of swarmers or their shed wings is the first sign of a problem with eastern subterranean termites.


Termites are the most destructive insect pests in the U.S., causing damage well into the billions of dollars annually. Eastern subterranean termites consume wood, but also will feed on and damage almost anything that contains cellulose such as book pages and other papers.


Termite workers are constantly foraging for food, and when a food source is located, the workers communicate the food source location by depositing complex odors called pheromones along trails.

Above ground foraging also takes place, and the typical termite mud tube must be constructed when workers forage above ground. The mud tube’s purpose is to protect the workers as they explore for new sources of food or travel back and forth with the cellulose they bring back to nourish the colony members.


Eastern subterranean termites infest damp timber and prefer damp soil because they need moisture to survive. Humid areas of the home, around the home, and water-damaged lumber are perfect habitats.

Geographic Range

There are numerous termite species native to the United States. Eastern subterranean termites are a subterranean species found primarily in the South and on the East Coast. These insects can have a large economic impact on homeowners due to their dense distribution.


One colony of Eastern subterranean termites may contain anywhere from 60,000 to nearly one million individuals. Unlike some other insect species, reproductive male termites mate throughout their lives, and males do not die immediately after mating. Eastern subterranean reproductive termites do shed their wings after mating swarms, at which time they go on to found new colonies.

Termite Control

How do you know if you have termites?

Learn the signs to look for to determine if you might have a termite infestation.

Why should you be worried?

Termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in damage each year and most insurance plans don’t cover the damage.

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