Termite Color

What Color Are Termites?

Although there are over 2,600 species of termites worldwide, most problems in the U.S. are caused by drywood, dampwood, subterranean, and formosan termites. Like many other wood-boring insects, these pests cause damage ranging from unsightly holes to dangerous structural issues.

Color Varies by Caste

Termites of all species vary in appearance based on their role in the nest.

Worker Termites
Drywood termite worker

Workers are in charge of gathering food and look similar in all of the four major U.S. species. They are wingless, soft-bodied, and range in color from light caramel to milky white. However, insect color and appearance is typically of little practical value to help a homeowner identify termite species.

Soldier Termites
Subterranean termite soldier

While soldiers tend to stick closer to the colony, residents may also see them around homes. Insects of all termite species in this role have beige bodies with large, dark heads and mandibles. Termite professionals usually rely on the appearance of termite soldiers to determine the various species of termites.

soldier termite

Flying Termites
Termite swarmer (alate)

Homeowners are most likely to encounter flying termites, also called swarmers. Generally, swarmers appear in the spring and summer and take flight in huge groups to mate and start new nests.

Swarmers of each species vary somewhat in color:

  • Drywood termites typically have red or brown bodies.
  • Dampwood termites tend to be light yellow or tan.
  • Similarly, Formosan termites are yellow-bodied, though they are distinguishable thanks to their slightly hairy wings.

Termites’ wing colors vary by species, ranging from colorless, almost translucent, to gray or brown. The number of veins in wings is often a clue to the species. Drywood termites and most dampwood termites have front wings with three major veins, while subterranean, Formosan and some dampwood termites have front wings with two major veins.

Can Termites Be Black?
Termite swarmers can be black. Swarmers of the most common species, subterranean termites, have black bodies and clear, veined wings. Drywood swarmers are generally not dark black in color.

Identifying termites is not an easy task; leave it to your pest management professional.