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The Difference Between Formosan and Subterranean Termites

For homeowners, there’s probably not a word more terrifying than “termites.” This is because everyone knows that a termite infestation can lead to serious damage that can cost thousands of dollars to control. Even worse, it can cost much more to fix the damage from such an infestation.

When it comes to termites, it’s good to know what you’re against. You might not know this, but there are actually many types of termites. However, most people end up dealing with one of two kinds: Reticulitermes subterranean termites and Formosan. While these names can be a bit misleading – in reality, ALL termites are subterranean because they build their colonies underground – there are a few major differences to know between these two.


One major difference is where these termites are active. Both types of termites are active in southern states, where it’s warmer. However, as you move north and the climate gets colder, you’ll find fewer Formosa colonies and more Reticulitermes colonies. This has to do mainly with how these termites work.


Another difference to consider is their appearance, although quite frankly unless you’re a termite expert there’s a good chance you won’t really be able to tell the difference. The main difference here has to do with the soldier termites in a colony. While both types have a large orange head with black pincers, the Formosan termites have a more oblong-shaped head.


Most of these differences so far are minor, but there is one major difference to note that can have a strong impact on your infestation: how they attack and build up in a property. Reticulitermes termites are truly subterranean: they will build a colony underground as close to your property as they can, but as they move in and work, they have to return underground for moisture.

On the other hand, Formosan termites have developed the ability to build “satellite” colonies above ground on higher levels. They do this by lining their nests with feces, which help to seal in moisture. Therefore, a Formosan infestation can go further into a property and do damage much quicker and more thoroughly, because they can attack the property from all sides relentlessly.

As a homeowner, discovering you have termites can be scary, and it might not matter in the long run what sort of infestation it is – you just want them taken care of! This is where professional service and expertise come into play. We at Worldwide Pest Control have the knowledge, tools and expertise needed to correctly identify an infestation and deal with it quickly and efficiently. Worried about possible signs, or want to take preventative measures now? Contact us at Worldwide Pest Control today!

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