How to identify subterranean termites

subterranean termites

Keeping your home can sometimes be challenging. It can be a lot of work. Cleaning, maintaining its structural integrity, and keeping it functional, not to mention the pests and insects here and there. One of the pests that homeowners try to avoid are subterranean termites. These critters eat continuously 27/7 and can severely damage your home should they gain entry to the home.

The National Pest Management Association estimates that termites cause $5 million in property damage each year. An average of $3,000 is needed to repair the termite damage. To mitigate termite infestation, it is important to take precautions and protect your investment. First, you need to know how to identify termites in your home.

What are subterranean termites?

termites soldier on nature background
Termites soldier on nature background

Rhinotermitidae, also known as subterranean termites, are insects that live in colonies. They are a colony of wood-soil-feeding termites and are considered pests that cause extensive damage to wooden structures and buildings. These subterranean termite colonies consist of workers, soldiers, and reproductive termites. Let's look at the three types of subterranean termites.

Worker Termites

1. Subterranean Worker termites are wingless, white or cream, and build up the most in the colonies. As its name suggests, the workers do most of the work. They repair the nest, look for food, build mud tubes, and take care of the young. Since these termites are always at work, they are also what you usually see when an infested wood or a mud tube is disturbed.

subterranean termites

Regarding reproductive function, workers are sexually immature males and females in the colony. They are about 3.2 mm long, wingless, and cream-colored.


2. Soldiers also have no wings and are sexually-immature males and females in the colony. Their mandibles or black jaws evolved to help them defend the territory against other threats. They also depend on workers to feed them. You can quickly identify a soldier with a prominent large head that is visibly darker than its body. These guardians comprise at least two to ten percent of the colonies' population.

subterranean termites

Reproductive Termites

3. Reproductive termites, or the upper class of the colony, are the kings and queens responsible for reproduction. They are winged and called alates or swarmers. They measure about six to 12 mm and have dark brown bodies with translucent wings. This caste has fully functional eyes and darker and thicker cuticles, which makes them resistant to water loss. Once an alate lands, it sheds its wings and mates.

What do subterranean termites do to your home?

how to identify subterranean termites

Ideally, termites are not a health risk to humans. However, it could cost you a lot of money when there is a termite infestation in your home. According to a study, around 600,000 homes in the US are affected by termite infestation every year. About $5 billion is spent on termite control and repair each year. Subterranean termites follow a moisture gradient or chemical when moving toward the food source. They trail abandoned tunnels or roots previously vacated by ants or earthworms. Because their bodies easily desiccate in a dry environment, these termites travel within mud tubes to reach their destination. They feed on food that contains cellulose, such as cotton fabrics, paper, fiberboard, plant fibers, and dead-wood or wood by-products are their favorite. Subterranean termites also infiltrate your home through your utility wires and expansion joints of concrete slabs. They will eat the wood in your home, which will cause massive damage to the structure of your home and your furniture as well.

How To Identify A Subterranean Termite Infestation?

Subterranean termite infestations can be hard to spot once they live and travel out of sight. Sometimes it can be most notable when it has already infested your home and eaten away all the wood, causing extensive damage. However, with vigilance and this list of signs of subterranean termite infestation, you can prevent further damage:

1. Swarmers or flying termites are nearby.

The existence of alates or swarmers indicates only two things. One is that the colony is already too large or established that swarmers can be seen inside and outside the colony. The second reason is that another colony of subterranean termites is setting soon, indicating a high infestation risk.

2. Mud tubes are everywhere.

how to identify subterranean termites

It is important to remember that mud tubes are essential for the survival and movement of subterranean termites. So, an underground termite nest is nearby if there are mud tunnels around your house.

3. Tunnels in the ground.

Colonies of subterranean termites are beneath the soil. To build their haven, they must dig underground tunnels aside from their mud tunnels. With a bit of examining the ground, you may find tunnels; however, be careful not to disturb them as they may swarm and scatter. Mounds found in the base of trees also indicate the presence of in ground tunnels and subterranean termite colonies.

4. The presence of subtle noises inside a wooden structure.

This may sound strange, but other than visual signs, wood structures, walls, and voids can also make clicking or knocking sounds when an insect is there. These sounds are produced when soldiers bang their heads or vibrate their bodies on the wall, signaling danger to the colony. Faint chewing sounds can sometimes be heard when workers chew wood structures in your home.

5. More visible hollow wood.

Hollowing wood in your house, landscapes, or trees indicates subterranean termite infestation. It is easy to check this. Tap on the wood which you suspect is infected. Tap on it several times. If it is infested, you will hear a papery or hollow sound.

Ideal Conditions For Subterranean Termites

Your crawl space can provide the ideal conditions for termite colonies to thrive. High humidity in the crawl space and in the wooden joists can offer a conducive environment with which termites will develop further. Furthermore, should you also have standing water in the crawl space, you run the risk of further infestations from other pests. This is a recipe for disaster.

Potential Signs In The Structure

If your floors are sagging, it is a sign that you may have advanced termite infiltration. It takes a lot of time for this to happen, but when the floors hang, you might need to change your floor's structural support. Another indicator of advanced infestation is when doors and windows no longer operate smoothly. The damage caused by termites eating and tunneling in your wood frames causes warping or swelling. Act fast and learn how to identify subterranean termites so that you can take appropriate Swift action.

What can you do to control subterranean termite infestation?

Give Scout's Pest Control a call if you suspect a subterranean termite infestation in your home. We offer a free inspection of your home and later provide a custom treatment based on your needs and budget. It can be a liquid treatment, installing and servicing termite baiting systems, and you can choose to have your crawl space encapsulated. With Scout's pest control, your termite control needs are renewable and guaranteed practical. Contact Scout’s Pest Control now.

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