Subterranean termites are social insects that live in colonies consisting of many individuals. Colonies consist of workers, soldiers and reproductives.
The workers are the most numerous. They are about 1/8 inch long and have no wings. Typically, they are white to cream colored.
Soldiers defend the colony. They protect the colony against various insects, like ants, that will attack the colony. Soldiers are also wingless and white in color. They have large brown heads and jaws.
Reproductives consist of the king and queen termites. As their name suggests, they carry out the reproductive functions within the colony. Reproductives are typically dark brown to black in color and have two pairs of wings. These wings are roughly twice the length of their body.
Subterranean Termite Behavior and Biology
Subterranean termites are found throughout North America and are responsible for billions of dollars of damage to structures every year.
Indications of Subterranean Termites
- Mud tubes. These tubes usually extend from the ground to the infested wood. They provide shelter for the feeding termites. The tubes are muddy and appear flattened.
- Swarmers. Swarmers are winged termites that emerge indoors or outside from swarming tubes immediately adjacent to the structure. These tubes are usually the first indication of subterranean termites. These swarming termites are attracted to light, and often found around lighting fixtures, windows, doors and vents inside a structure.
- Wood Damage. A common indication of subterranean termites dark areas or blisters in wood flooring. However, subterranean termite will only eat the spring wood, leaving the grain and exterior surface intact – thus, the damage can go unnoticed.
Subterranean Termites Diet
Subterranean termites eat wood and other material containing cellulose. They find cellulose in paper, burlap or other plant products.
Worker termites will eat wood and share their nourishment with the developing young nymphs, other workers, soldiers and reproductives.
Subterranean Termite Lifecycle
- Queens can lay several thousands of eggs in one day.
- The king remains only slightly bigger than an average termite and continues to mate with the queen for life.
- Males in ant colonies die immediately after mating, unlike termite male alates, which become kings and live with the queen.
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