What Does a Termite Look Like?

Termites are best identified by their behaviors, but it is important to know their physical attributes to determine which type of termite you may have.

Although there are many types of termites in the United States, they all have similar attributes:

  • Termites grow to be ¼-½ inch in length and range in color from off-white to dark brown or red in color.
  • These wood-boring insects have soft, straight bodies, straight antennae, and some have wings that are the same length.
  • Different species of termites have unique characteristics that helps identify them.
  • Termites also have castes that separate them by their specific role, and each one differs in physical appearance.

How do Different Termite Types Differ in Appearance?

Learn what a termite looks like from Heron Home & Outdoor in Orlando, Leesburg, Kissimmee, Sanford and Central FL areas

There are two factors that determine a termite’s appearance: their type and their caste. For example, dampwood termites are much larger than other types and can have a reddish tint to their brown bodies. Drywood termites can have a yellow-brown color, and wings that range from clear to smokey gray. Subterranean termites, on the other hand, are most often an off-white to dark brown/black color. Knowing the differences between these types of termites is essential in identifying which one may be infesting your home.

What are the Characteristics of the Termite Castes?

Termite populations are divided up into a caste system based on what job they perform in their colony. Each of these differs in size, color, and shape but typically holds similar characteristics throughout the types. The main castes and their characteristics are as follows:

  1. Worker termites: These make up the majority of a colony and have an off-white to creamy colored appearance.
  2. Alates/Swarmer termites: While these vary in color between species, they all have significantly sized wings that enable them to fly.
  3. Soldier termites: Often confused for ants, soldier termites have large, dark heads with powerful mandibles.
  4. Queen termites: The queen has a large, translucent egg-producing chamber on its body and can grow to the size of a human finger.

Identifying Termites by Appearance

Termites are often confused with ants, and homeowners will most often see swarmer termites if any at all. That said, knowing the differences in appearance between the types and the castes is extremely helpful in diagnosing and treating any termite infestation you may have.

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