Termite Photo Gallery: Pictures of Termites for Home Identification Purposes
What Does a Termite Look Like?
There are more than 2,000 species of termites in the U.S. Though they have many characteristics in common, subtle differences help identify each type, and you can learn more about the details of these pests in the termite photos below.
Termites can have white or brown bodies, depending on their caste or stage of development. Younger insects are typically lighter in color. Termites also have antennae, and some develop wings during springtime. Unlike insects like ants or cockroaches, you’re more likely to find other evidence of an infestation long before you ever see an actual termite.
How Big Is a Termite?
Termites range in size from an eighth of an inch to one inch in length. Some species are a bit bigger than others, as illustrated in the termite photos below. The insect’s stage of development or its specific role in the colony can also affect its size.
Illustration of a Dampwood Termite
Dampwood termites are among the largest species. However, their bodies vary in size and color, depending on their age. Adults have antennae, dark heads, and tan abdomens, while larvae have white bodies. The pests use their prominent mandibles to eat and tunnel through wood.
Dampwood termites on wood
As the name suggests, dampwood termites prefer humid habitats. As seen in this termite photo, the pests seek out soft, water-damaged lumber because it’s easy to tunnel into. The surrounding wood provides them with moisture, food, and shelter.
Eastern Subterranean Termites
Illustration of an eastern subterranean termite
Eastern subterranean termites are common across the Mid-Atlantic. This species has slightly different coloring and features than dampwood termites. Their heads are pale yellow, and their mandibles are much smaller and lighter in color than those of other species.
Eastern subterranean termite on wood
This termite image shows a soldier, which is the caste that defends the colony from predators and rivals. Soldiers are capable of biting humans. However, their attacks are essentially harmless, and bites rarely leave a mark.
Pair of eastern subterranean termites
Eastern subterranean termite workers have white or translucent bodies, large heads, and dark jaws. Since these pests hollow out lumber from the inside, homeowners are unlikely to see termite workers on wood until they probe into infested timber.
Eastern subterranean termites in soil
Eastern subterranean termites nest in the soil to get the moisture they need to survive. When the colony needs to expand their tunnels and access more food sources, these termites create mud tubes that allow them to travel over dense materials like stone or concrete. The tubes offer protection from the elements and predators while providing them with a moist habitat.
Eastern subterranean termites in rotted wood
Rotted wood, like the lumber shown in this termite photo, is a common entryway for the Eastern subterranean species. Timber weakened by moisture and age is easier for them to tunnel through. Many termite infestations in the Mid-Atlantic region occur in basements or cellars where damp or decaying wood is likely to go unnoticed, especially in older buildings.
Eastern subterranean termites caught on a cleaning cloth
Termite infestations cause extensive damage over time, and since the pests tunnel inside wood, property owners rarely see the pests. Testing that looks rotten or cracking open mud tubes can cause workers to spill from the break, indicating an active infestation.
Eastern subterranean termites in wood
Wood that makes contact with soil is susceptible to Eastern subterranean termite infestations. Doorframes, stairs, and posts set in the ground often serve as entry points for the pests. To survive the cold Mid-Atlantic winters, termites will also seek out lumber near heat sources such as furnaces, chimneys, or hot water pipes.
Infestation of eastern subterranean termites on rotted wood
While Eastern subterranean termites look and behave similarly to dampwood termites and others, they are often much more destructive. If you’ve seen pests that resemble the insects in this termite photo or spotted mud tubes in your residence or business, an infestation is likely well underway.
Eastern subterranean termites on a leaf
Though their presence is a problem for property owners, termites play an important ecological role for the environment. The insects break down dead trees and stumps in forests, and their nests provide aeration and nutrients in the soil, which promotes plant growth and helps prevent erosion.
Eastern subterranean termites inside a wall
In the U.S., Eastern subterranean termites do more damage to residential and commercial spaces than any other insect. When left untreated, colonies can spread throughout a building. As seen in this termite image, the pests may infest wall studs as well as drywall and flooring. An extensive infestation can cause serious harm to the structural integrity of a home or business.
Close up of a soldier termite
Soldier termites protect the others from threats. They are about the same size as a worker with specific characteristics. Their heads are larger, and they may have a dark brown or yellowish color depending on the species. As shown in the termite photo above, they also have powerful pincers to fend off predators.
Soldier termite on wood
If you find termites in wood supports of your home or business, you may see a few soldiers mixed in with pale, translucent workers. Soldiers rely on workers for food, and in turn, they use their mandibles to defend the colony from invaders.
Mass of winged swarming termites
Many home and business owners don’t realize they have a wood-destroying pest problem until they see swarmers like those depicted in this termite photo. Infestations can go undetected in soil and wood for years, which is why pest inspections and prevention are crucial.
Discarded wings shed by swarming termites
A mass of discarded wings is a serious sign of termite infestation. In the Mid-Atlantic region, swarming termites usually emerge between February and June, but they may appear earlier in heated buildings. They shed their wings soon after mating. Finding cast-off wings indoors often indicates a long-term problem with an established colony.
Close up of winged termite
Swarmers have a distinct appearance when compared to soldiers and workers. Flying reproductives are dark brown or black in color with two sets of wings of equal length. Male termites and queens are the only castes that produce wings, and mating flights occur to establish new colonies.
Winged termite caught in a trap
Winged termites and carpenter ant swarmers are often mistaken for one another. While both have dark brown or black bodies, carpenter ants have wings that are two different sizes while termite wings are the same length. Termites also have a broad waist while ants have a narrow midsection.
Swarming termite perched on fabric
You can also tell the difference between flying carpenter ants and swarming termites by their wings. As seen in this photo, termite wings extend further than the length of their bodies, while carpenter ants’ wings are much shorter. In addition, ant wings often have visible veins, while termite wings do not.
Queen termite surrounded by workers
Termite colonies have one queen that lays thousands of white or light brown eggs. These females are longer and wider than the other castes, and they have brown or black bodies. Large, well-established colonies produce young queens that develop wings so they can leave the nest, reproduce, and start a new colony.
Western Drywood Termites
Illustration of a western drywood termite
Western drywood termite soldiers have a reddish-brown head and large, dark mandibles. Like other drywood species, they produce droppings, known as frass, which the pests clear out as they tunnel through wood. They remove these pellets through tiny holes on the surface of infested timber, and piles of frass are a common sign of infestation.
Infestation of western drywood termites in a wall
Since they don’t have the same soil and moisture needs as other species, Western drywood termites can easily infest attics, wall framing, and other parts of a building’s upper levels. This species thrives in arid climates, but drywood termites can affect Mid-Atlantic property owners, too. Infested items shipped from another part of the country can bring the pests into a home or business.
Worker termites in wood
Like soldiers and queens, worker termites are a caste within a colony. They gather food and build passages by eating their way through wood and soil. As you can see in this termite photo, workers have creamy, white-colored bodies and dark mandibles. This caste makes up the largest portion of a colony.
Worker termites at the entrance to a tunnel
You’re unlikely to find workers roaming around in the open, as most species need the protection and moisture of their tunnels or mud tubes for survival. However, splitting open an infested piece of wood often results in a flood of worker termites falling from the break.
Termite Damage Pictures
Termite damage to a wood beam
Discovering hollow tunnels as shown in this termite photo indicates an infestation. The pests build these passageways as they eat and move through wood beams, floors, and other lumber. Without treatment, a termite colony can weaken important structural features, leading to expensive repairs.
A termite-infested tree stump
You can spot termite populations and their effects outdoors, too. In forests and urban locations alike, subterranean termites seek out soft, decaying wood like stumps, branches, and fallen trees as food sources. To keep the pests from getting too close to home, stack firewood far from building exteriors and spread mulch at least three inches away from home foundations.
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