The Identification of Termites

Before you decide on a treatment plan for termites, identification of the type you have is essential. It is possible to have several different species of infestation at the same time, according to BobVila.com. Different species of termites require different forms of treatment. In the southern part of the United States, subterranean termites are the most common, especially in Louisiana, Texas and Florida. Drywood termites are most common in areas near the Gulf of Mexico and Southern California. Dampwood termites are common along the Pacific Coast.


There are approximately 2,300 species of termites that are responsible for billion dollars of structural destruction per year.

The most obvious sign of termite infestation is mud tunneling in wooden structures, beams, foundations, plastic, damp wood, wood piles, etc. The mud tunnels will appear on wood or concrete and look like a mud tube. According to BobVila.com, one percent of all housing in the United States is affected by termites and requires treatment. Avoiding treatment to your home could result in total destruction.

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are yellowish brown in color. They do not require moisture to survive and can go long periods without water. They thrive inside lumber, siding, wooden trim, furniture and books. Once drywood termites gain access to the inside of the house, their destruction is quick. They leave behind piles of dust, consisting of fecal pellets.

Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites develop colonies in wet and decaying wood. They do not require wood and dirt at the same time. They commonly colonize in fallen, dead trees or stumps. They require moisture and darkness.

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites are creamy brown in color. They develop colonies underground and construct tunnels about an inch wide. They can be found building tunnels in crawl spaces and inside and outside of slab foundations. The tunnels are protected by a mud shell coating. Should you see mud tunnels on your foundation, you probably have subterranean termite infestation.

Social Structure

Termites form colonies of hundreds of thousands of individual species of pests. Different species have specific jobs and purposes.

Soldier termites ensure the safety of the colony by utilizing their enlarged mandibles or pincher. They are wingless with white bodies, yellowish heads, and do not have eyes. Because of their mandibles, they are unable to feed themselves. That is the job of the worker termites.

Workers are responsible for collecting food, water, maintaining the tunneled structures and caring for the eggs and young. They are smaller than the reproductive termites, wingless, and dark brown to brownish black in color.

The reproductive termites, known as the king and queen, much like bees, ensure the growth of the colony. They are dark brown to brownish black with grayish wings. The queen can lay 2,000 to 3,000 eggs per day. Unlike bees, once a reproductive species mate, they do not die. The reproductive termites have wings and are dark in color. After mating, they will shed their wings.

Ants vs. Termites

Also known as "white ants," termites are easily confused with carpenter ants because they have similar characteristics. To easily differentiate the two pests, check the color, antennae, wings and waist. Subterranean termites appear solid black and drywood termites appear solid red in color. Carpenter ants appear red and black or dark brown in color. Termites have straight antennae, while carpenter ants' antennae appear bent. Termites have the same size wings, while carpenter ants have longer front wings than the back. Termites have bodies that are long without segments, while the carpenter ants have segmented bodies with a narrow neck and waist.

About the Author

Danielle Coots, Waynesville, Ohio has been writing since 1996. She has been a paralegal and worked in the legal field and has been writing for Demand Studios since March 2010. She has been published in "The Storyteller" and "Dayton Daily News." Danielle completed creative writing courses at Sinclair and LongRidge Writing Institute.