What Do Termites Look Like?

There are over 40 species of termites in the United States alone. Although they have distinct characteristics, most look similar and measure between 1/4 and 1/2 of an inch long. The pests have soft bodies, straight antennae, and range from white to light brown in color. Worker termites often appear lighter, while swarming termites are darker. Additionally, flying and swarming termites can be recognized by their prominent wings.

image of a subterranean termite colony

Can You See Termites with the Human Eye?
While the pests are small, termites are visible with the human eye. Winged termites, or swarmers, are somewhat larger than workers and can be more easily spotted. This is helpful since homeowners are most likely to encounter swarmers, which take flight during mating season to look for new nesting sites.

How to Identify Termites by their Habitats

Knowing where termites live helps homeowners identify infestations. Dampwood termites, for example, are found in areas with moist climates; however, these termites can be found in areas of the home where water leaks occur. They typically set up colonies in damp basements or bathrooms. On the other hand, drywood termites are found in dry environments of the coastal, southeastern and southwestern portions of the U.S. Drywood termites typically live in undamaged, dry wood of houses and apartments.

Identifying Damage

Since the pests eat cellulose found in wood, termites destroy, walls, furniture, and other wooden materials in homes. The damage they do may appear in the form of sagging floors and ceilings or infested wood might look water damaged. Additionally, homeowners may find piles of sawdust, mud tubes or the shed wings of swarmers.

Preventing Infestations

Homeowners can take action to reduce the possibility of finding termite infestations. Sealing all cracks and openings in walls and floors, as well as eliminating moisture buildup makes homes less favorable to the pests. However, once an infestation is present, they are very difficult to control. Individuals dealing with termites should contact the specialists at Orkin to assess the damages and handle removal.