What Do Subterranean Termites Look Like?

photo of eastern subterranean termite

Identifying Termites

Subterranean termite colonies have a caste system comprised of workers, soldiers, reproductive kings & queens. Typically once a year the colony also produces reproductive swarmers.

Each has distinct features and performs a specific role. Though it’s good for homeowners to know all of the castes, swarmers are usually the only termites that people see.

Subterranean Termites Caste Identification

To identify infestations, residents should know what each type of subterranean termite looks like.


Workers are creamy white in color with soft bodies and tiny, round heads. These pests make up most of the colony. However, homeowners rarely see them because they live under the wood’s surface. These are most often seen if remodeling is being done or wood & stumps are being moved in the yard.


As their name implies, these insects protect the colony. For the most part, soldier subterranean termites look like workers. However, they have mandibles that protrude from their large, yellow-brown heads to help them fend off intruders.


Swarmer subterranean termites don’t look like other castes in the colony. Reproductives are larger than the other types and have the ability to fly. Their dark brown or black bodies feature translucent wings.

During the spring, swarmer reproductives emerge from the ground to search for new nesting sites. Finding swarmers or their discarded wings inside a home is a serious sign of infestation.


Termites are one of the most costly pests that affect homeowners. Spotting problems early can save residents thousands of dollars. At the first sign of trouble, contact Western Pest Services for swift and efficient treating.