Subterranean termites live in underground colonies or in moist secluded areas above ground that can contain up to 2 million members. They build distinctive "mud tubes" to gain access to food sources and to protect themselves from open air. Termite colonies are organized into castes depending on tasks -- workers, soldiers and reproductives. The characteristics of a subterranean termite are dependent on the termite's role in the colony. Cream-colored Worker subterranean termites are 1/8 to 3/8's of an inch in length. Soldier subterranean termites are of a similar body length, but are distinguished by their powerful mandibles.
Color: Creamy brown
Shape: Long, narrow, oval
Size: 1/8 inch
Antennae: Yes, bead-like
Flying: Yes, reproductives (swarmers) only
Region: All 50 states
- Cause serious damage to structures often long before they are discovered.
- Eat anything containing cellulose.
- Favor warmer climates and actively avoid light.
- Live in underground colonies — some containing over two million members.
- A queen and king may live for 15 years, with the queen laying up to one egg every 15 seconds for most of her life.
Habits: Subterranean termites live underground and build tunnels, referred to as mud tubes, to reach food sources. Like other termite species, they feed on products containing cellulose. Subterranean termites swarm in the spring to start a new colony.
Habitat: Subterranean termites need contact with the soil to survive and live underground. They can build tunnels through cracks in concrete.
Threats: Subterranean termites are by far the most destructive species. They can collapse a building entirely over time. The hard, saw-toothed jaws of termites work like shears and are able to bite off extremely small fragments of wood, one piece at a time.
Prevention: Avoid water accumulation near your home's foundation. Reduce humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation. Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard. Most importantly, eliminate wood contact with the soil. Maintain a one-inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building.