The Four Types of Destructive Termites

Terminates can be a real danger to any property. They have been a horrifying villain to most homeowners and it is a rather long battle for humans to get rid of this destructive pest. There are different types of termites across the earth and all of them are described as "silent destroyers" because of their ability to chew through wood while remaining unnoticeable.

Termites are eusocial insects. Just like ants, termites also divide duties among castes consisting of infertile male and female as workers and soldiers of the colony. Each colony has their kings -- these are the fertile male termites mating one or more fertile females, aptly called queens. Scientists believe that the total weights of all termites combined are more than the weight of all humans in the world. This simple fact proves that termites are definitely one of the most successful species on Earth. They are able to colonize almost all part of landmasses of the planet except for Antarctica.

There are about 2,000 termite species found and identifies in the world. Below are some of the most well-known and most destructive termite species.

termites facts
Dampwood Termites


This species is commonly found on the Pacific Coast. Dampwood termites are larger than the other termite species; they have brownish, narrow, and elongated oval shaped bodies. They can grow up 25mm long including their wings. A soldier dampwood can grow up to 20mm with a large head, antenna and a pincer up front. The immature cream color termites or “false worker” can also be as much as 20mm and do most of the labor in the colony.

Habits and Reproduction

Dampwood termites like to eat wood with a high level of moisture – that is why their name is ‘dampwood’. Mating of damp termites usually takes 2 weeks. The queen can produce about 12 eggs each time. This species is usually found to infest dead trees, decaying timber or house stumps. Woods with a constant moisture source or high moisture content are more susceptible to dampwood termites. They attack the wood directly and do not dig holes in the soil.

Subterranean Termites

Appearance and Habitat

Subterranean Termites are social insects as well. Their colonies are divided into three types of termites: soldiers, workers, and reproductive, also called alates. The alates can grow up to 10mm or 12mm long. However, the queen can be more than 14.5mm in length. When she produces her eggs, her midsection grows larger. A white membrane separates her midsection and gives her a stripped appearance. The king and queen termites are dark-colored with grayish translucent wings and are the only group with functional eyes. The soldier termites are the defender of the colony. They have hard, yellowish to brown heads with long and large mandibles that they use to puncture or kill enemies. The worker termites are responsible for all the labor in the colony, their mouth parts are hard and equipped to chew food. The young worker's tasks are more of domestic duties while the adult workers take the difficult task such as foraging food and nest building. Both classes are about 6mm long, milky-white in color, soft-bodied, blind and wingless.

Subterranean termites require a high level of moisture to survive; This is why they usually build their colony and reside underground since the soil is capable of holding water. The tunnels made from mud and fecal materials are used when workers forage for food. If the tube is damaged, they immediately repair it. If not, the termites located above the ground will die of dehydration.

Feeding and Reproduction

This type of species is the most destructive kind of termite, they eat wood or any cellulose containing products. Subterranean termites have thousands of members in their colonies. Each colony can consume about five grams of wood in a day. Worker termites also used pheromones to send signals to other termites in the colony when the food source is located. Although subterranean termites can chew a lot, they cannot digest the cellulose without the help of the microorganism in their gut. If there were no microorganism, termite could eat continually but will still die of starvation.

Termite swarmers pair up during their flight. Their wings break off when they start to land and search a place to begin their colony. The queen lays her first batch of eggs within a few days of mating, which will hatch in about two weeks. However, the female egg laying capacity develops in the long run and she increases the number of eggs produced every season. The parental termites have the longest life span and often live more than a decade.

Drywood Termites

Appearance and Habitat

Drywood termites often colonize inside dry woods above the ground level. Unlike subterranean and dampwood termite, Drywood termites do not require soil or moisture in order to survive. Drywoods are commonly in about 3/8 inch in size, with narrow and elongated oval shape body in light brown color. These type of termite lives in a small number of members in a colony. Drywood termites form up to 2,500 members. Same with dampwood termite, they have false workers and reproductives into a caste.

Feeding and Reproduction

These types of termites often found in attic wood and uncommon in the structural buildings. They spend most of their entire life inside one colony. Drywood termites eat woods, plastics, and fabric made from organic materials. They extract water from their feces leaving a distinct pellet-like fecal. Once the colony is fully developed for about 5 years, the queen will let go of the matured alate to create a new colony. During the swarming period, the nymph termites will create holes in about 1/6 inch in diameter so the swarmers can pass through the woods.

Formosan Termites

Appearance and Habitat

Formosan termites are native to Formosa (where it gets its name), an island from Southern China. They’re about ½ inch with long and narrow oval-shaped bodies. They are translucent and orange-colored and have a short head with two short pinchers. Their colony can be up to 300 feet long in soil with millions of members. Formosan termites have the ability to create channels to bring moisture to their nest. This allows them to colonize without returning to the soil.

Feeding and Reproduction

These types of termites were hailed super termites’ due to its destructive habits. Formosan termites are the largest and the most destructive kind of termite. They can have several millions of members in a single colony. A developed Formosan colony can consume about 400g of wood a day. They eat wood fibers, fabrics made from plants, crops, and dead trees. However, they are also known to chew through copper sheets asphalt and some plastics.

The Formosan colony may produce 70,000 alates or winged termite. The queen of the colony can produce up to 2,000 eggs per day and hatch within two to four weeks. The workers and soldiers may live 3-5 years while the royal termites have a lifespan up to 10 years.

how to get rid of termites

The damage that all of these termites can cause is enormous, so if you discover any trace whatsoever of termites in your property, please contact a termite exterminator.

For more information about termites, please visit this website.

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