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What Do Termites Look Like?

Termite Identification & Prevention

If you are like most people, you have a lot invested in your home. For some, the purchase of a home will be the largest investment you will make in your lifetime, and one of the greatest threats to your equity is a tiny insect known as the termite. While the typical termite is only about ¼ inch in length, termites can do a lot of damage, especially since you're not likely to have only one individual termite feeding on the wood of your home.

Termite colonies can have thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of workers living in them. If you don't have termite protection for your home, it is vital that you at least know what a termite looks like.

a termite up close inside of a home in pennsylvania


At the center of every termite colony is a queen, but before she becomes the center of a thriving, feeding colony, deep inside the earth or hidden in the walls of your house, you may get a glimpse of her. Queen termites begin their lives as winged female reproductives. When a nest matures, it will begin to produce male and female reproductives for the purpose of creating new nests.

Termite swarmers vary in size, depending on the species, but they are usually smaller than ½ inch, with white wings that double their length. These wings start at the neck of these termites and go as far as the length of their body beyond their abdomen. On a 1-inch termite swarmer, ¾ of their length will be wing length. For this reason, the white wings of a termite swarmer will be the most prominent visual characteristic when you see dozens or hundreds of them crawling around on your external walls, window sills, and walkways. And, while the wings of termite swarmers are transparent, they can appear bright white or yellow because of the way they stack one on top of the other on the back of the swarmer. And, since they stack, their four wings do not have a cleft at the end, like the wings of ant swarmers. Instead, there will be a rounded edge.

Termite swarmers are most often black in color, but they can be brown, depending on the species. If you look closely, and you will need to because a termite swarmer is quite small, you will see that it has two antennae that do not have an elbow, like the antennae of an ant, but are straight or have a gentle curve. These antennae will appear as if they are made from extremely tiny balls stacked on top of each other.

Workers & Soldiers

Once a new colony is established, you're not going to see termites for quite some time. Swarmers are the only termites that will crawl around on, and inside, your home. The only time you're likely to see workers and soldiers is when you're doing some remodeling.

Workers are the most plentiful caste of termite. They are the termites that feed on wood and share the food with the rest of their colony. If you see this termite, you're not likely to see it by itself. You'll expose an area and see hundreds or thousands of them crawling around. At first glance, they may look like maggots or worms, due to their pale color and wiggling motion, but it won't take long to realize that these are not maggots or worms. They have two antennae, six legs, and three body parts, though it is hard to differentiate the abdomen from the thorax. Unlike ants, termites do not have a pinched waist.

Soldier termites look like worker termites with a large dark head and black pincers. They use their large head to seal openings in tunnels and keep predators out. And, they use their pincers for combat. These termites will be scattered in among the workers.

The Queen Termite

A termite colony begins and ends with a queen. Once a nest has been established, you're not likely to see a queen. She will be in the deepest and most protected area. But, if you could, you would see a termite that looks like it is trying to escape from a tiny, slimy, loaf of bread with scorch marks. This is because the abdomen of the termite queen never stops growing. While her head and thorax continue to be black like a swarmer, her abdomen will start to look like a tannish brown color.

Contact Moyer Pest Control

If you find termites on your property, or want to protect your home from destructive termites, reach out to the termite control experts at Moyer Pest Control today to schedule immediate termite control services.

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