There are four basic types of termites: dry wood, damp wood, formosan, and subterranean. Here in the Midwest, subterranean termites (reticulitermes) are the only species present. Unfortunately for homeowners in our area, subterranean termites are by far the most destructive of the four types of termites with respect to homes and commercial structures.
Subterranean termites are social insects that live in nests or colonies in the soil. each colony consists of three forms or castes of individuals: reproductives, workers, and soldiers. Subterranean termites build shelter tubes or "mud tubes" made of sand and/or soil that enables them to travel back and forth from colony to the food source (wood) without drying out and dying. Winged reproductives (swarmers) are coal black to pale yellow-brown, flattened and about 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch long, with pale or smoke-gray to brown wings of equal length that easily detach. Workers are wingless, white to grayish-white with a round, yellow-brown head and about 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch long. Soldiers are also wingless and resemble workers except that they have large, rectangular, yellowish and brown heads with large mandibles (jaws).
Ant or Termite?
Winged reproductives (commonly called swarmers) are often confused with winged ants and vise-versa. Termite swarmers have straight, bead-like antennae, a thick waist, and a pair of long, equal-length wings that break off easily. winged ants have elbowed antennae, constricted waists, forewings that are larger than the rear wings (unequal size), and not easily detached.
DO YOU KNOW THE DIFFERENCE?
Signs of a Termite Infestation
- The presence of swarmer termites.
- Discarded wings from swarmer termites.
- Shelter tubes
- Pin holes in drywall with tiny nodes of sand coming out or attached to the hole.
- Crumbling of paneling.