As one of the most destructive insects around, termites are often misunderstood. Whether it is confusion on what type eats what wood, or what they look like, it is fair to say there is much to know about these little monsters of destruction. To get a better understanding about termites here are five things you should know about them.


Close up image of drywood termites, Cryptotermes domesticus, feeding on wood.

Drywood Termites, Cryptotermes domesticus

1. Types of Termites

There are three basic types of termites. They include dry wood, damp wood, and subterranean. Each of these has their preference of where they live and what food source they prefer. The two to be concerned about as a homeowner is a dry wood and subterranean.

Drywood Termites vs. Subterranean Termites

The most significant difference between these two is where they live and multiply. Drywood termites do not require soil to bred and are found living in wood, usually dead wood. Whereas, Subterranean termites need both soil and wood and live in tunnels. Drywood termites are also smaller colonies than their Subterranean counterparts.


2. What Do They Look Like

Within these three types, you also have their subtypes which are worker termites, soldier termites, and reproductive termites. Each of these has a specific job that they perform within their colony, and they each look different. To tell the difference between the three, there are some slight variants to look for. The reproductive termites are typically a light brown to black color and have wings and antennae. Their purpose is flying off to breed and make other colonies. The soldier termite has a unique white body with a brownish head and is the largest of the three. The Worker termites can be as large as ½ inch and an off-white shade.


A single subterranean termite (Rhinotermitidae) on soil.

Subterranean Termite (Rhinotermitidae)

3. What is the Diet of a Termite

Termites feed on wood and dead trees, but more specifically the cellulose found in the wood. The dry wood termite is perfectly happy consuming wood without moisture, vs. the subterranean termite that thrives in moist conditions.


4. Signs You Have Termites

Some signs to look out for include:

  • Piles of shed wings from the reproductive termites
  • Holes in drywall and wood
  • Mud tubes found on the outside of your residence
  • Droppings Near entry points


5. Preventing an Infestation

Drywood termite prevention can be done by making sure your home is sealed from the outside. If you allow for them to get in through cracks, they will colonize in any dry wood they may find. Even if they are smaller colonies, they can still do damage. The subterranean are usually discovered on the outside of your home and are responsible for most damage that is done yearly to homes. Drywood termite treatments can be done by your local pest control and essential to get done once an infestation is found. For drywood termite control and prevention, it is best to have untreated wood treated by a professional.


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