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Subterranean Termites

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

Meet the Bug
Closeup of subterranean termites in a tunnel

The Subterranean Termite, or Reticulitermes Coptotermes (Formosan), is the largest concentration of termite species in the United States and can be found in all 50 states except Alaska due to its frigid climate. Termites are more commonly found in the warmer southern states and are the most destructive of wood-loving pests, nesting in the soil and then attacking wood structures from the base up.

Subterranean Termites (and most species) feast on and attack wood and wood-built structures. Wood is their primary source of nutrients and food, and they will build tubes or protective shelters that will go around any obstacle in their way, funneling straight to the source of wood in the ground around them.

Infestations are generally brought on by the homeowner/renter, creating the perfect environment to incubate the termite population; a warm and moist area is preferred.

It is estimated that Subterranean Termites cause around 1 - 7 billion dollars in damages each year, depending on the area. However, it is thought that most damages and costs associated go unreported, meaning the number could be even more vast than we are aware.

Are Termites Good for Anything?

Like spiders, termites have their uses in our world, but controlling and isolating any insect is near impossible.

When left to their natural habitats, termites will target and destroy dead or decaying (dying) plant-based elements, such as wood, ridding the soil of the toxicity of these materials. Termites play an essential role in the nutrient cycle.

Social Structure of a Termite Colony

Termites are an extremely social species that live in organized colonies. Each termite has its place and job within the colony caste system, and their physical appearance represents this caste.

There are three main castes within a termite colony: Workers, Soldiers, and Reproductives (who may or may not have wings).

Termites vs. Ants

Many people confuse termites and ants, as they have a similar look at first glance. However, when studying the two insects side-by-side, one would note that winged termites have equal wings, whereas winged ants have unequally sized wings. In addition, an ant's body is also tapered in more at the "waist," whereas a termite's is typically devoid of tapering.

How Do You Get Rid of a Subterranean Termite Infestation?

New construction builders often employ tactics that will severely reduce the possibility of an infestation by applying termite pesticides to the ground during the initial construction phases. It is advised to homeowners or property managers to have a local pest control company come out periodically to maintain a pest-free location.

In the case of an infestation in an older home, a licensed and skilled pest control company will send a technician out to apply commercial strength insecticide to the entirety of the building, concentrating on the areas where the termite population is most substantial. This should effectively reduce and hopefully eradicate the infestation.

Thank you for reading our blog, for more information on Subterranean Termites, please click the link below.

All summarized information found in this blog post came directly from the United States Department of Agriculture; all credit is given to them.


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