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Types of Termites

Out of the 45 species of termites found in the United States, pest specialists are most concerned about the species of termites that fall into the subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. These are the termites most commonly found in homes, destroying wooden structures. 

Find more detailed information below about these common termite species.

Subterranean Termites

(Reticulitermes flavipes)

What Do Subterranean Termites Look Like?

  • Subterranean termite swarmers are winged termites that are dark brown in color and are ¼ to ½ in length 
  • Worker termites measure in at about ¼ inch, have no wings and are cream colored 
  • Soldier termites have jaws to help them chew through wood and are the same color as workers but with brown heads

Subterranean Termite Lifecycle

  • A subterranean termite queen is capable of laying thousands of eggs in her lifetime 
  • If the king and queen termite happens to die, other termites in the colony will begin developing reproductive organs. These termites are called “secondary reproductives” 
  • Worker termites will tend to the young and care of the habitat to ensure the colony’s survival

Subterranean Termite Facts

  • Subterranean termites are the most destructive termites in the U.S. 
  • These termites create mud tubes to avoid the elements and reach food sources 
  • Subterranean termites are most active in the spring when groups of reproductive termites start growing their own colony

Dampwood Termites


What Do Dampwood Termites Look Like?

  • Dampwood termites are about ⅜ in. to ¾ in. long 
  • Dampwood solider termites have a flattened brown head with long dark brown mandibles, or long teeth 
  • Reproductives have dark brown wings and dark brown bodies 
  • Nymphs are cream colored with a spotted pattern on their abdomen

Dampwood Termite Lifecycle

  • The dampwood termite has a similar lifecycle as other species, including egg and larval stages 
  • They don’t have a worker caste, similar to the drywood termite

Dampwood Termite Facts

  • Dampwood termites typically don’t invade housing structures due to their need for moisture. But, housing structures must be cared for to reduce moisture collection otherwise these structures may be susceptible to dampwood termite infestations 
  • Dampwood termites are typically found in logs, stumps and dead trees

Drywood Termites

(Cryptotermes brevis)

What Do Drywood Termites Look Like?

  • Drywood termite swarmers have a pair of wings but after they swarm, their wings fall off. Their wings have a dark vein that outline it 
  • Drywood termite swarmers can be up to 12 mm long 
  • Drywood termite soldiers have large mouthparts and a cream-colored body with dark brown head

Drywood Termite Lifecycle

  • Drywood termites begin as eggs, hatch and then go through three staging of molting. Molting is when the termite grows, it forms a new exoskeleton inside the old exoskeleton 
  • Drywood termites don’t have a caste system, rather the young termite does the work before reaching full maturity

Drywood Termite Facts

  • A drywood termite colony can contain up to 2,500 termites 
  • Drywood termites love warm temperatures, which is why they are most active during a rise in temperature 
  • Drywood termites have been found to chew through wooden support beams, floors and walls

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