A soldier termite’s job is to protect the colony. Your job is to protect your home. Learn more about termites and how to check your home for damage.
For a homeowner, knowing the basics of termite identification can mean the difference between stopping an infestation early or having to make expensive repairs and spending time controlling termites.
So what does a termite look like? Where do they live? How can you tell if you have termites? Here are some quick tips to help identify whether or not you have a termite on your hands.
What are soldier termites?
All termites live in nests or colonies. Individual classes (or "castes") of termites within the colony have their own roles and functions. Soldier termites defend the colony from attack. If a termite nest is disturbed, soldier termites will rush to "plug" any broken walls, tunnels ("mud tubes"), and/or areas where the nest has become vulnerable. As a result, you will, on occasion, see soldier termites outside of the colony itself.
How can I tell a soldier termite from other kinds of termites?
Soldier termites resemble worker termites in several respects. For example, both castes have rounded bodies that are colored a pale reddish-brown or white. However, a termite soldier can be easily distinguished from other kinds of termites. Look for termites that are larger than average, have heads that are darker or a different color than their bodies and feature either protruding jaws or snouts. These soldiers make up about 1-10% of any given colony's termite population.
How can soldier termites damage my home?
Soldier termites are defensive specialists. They do not collect cellulose to feed the colony, like worker termites, and therefore do not directly damage wooden structures in your home. Soldier termites are nevertheless an indicator of a termite infestation. If you see soldier termites in or around your home or if you generally suspect termite activity, check around for these warning signs:
- Buckled floorboards or sagging of your wood floors.
- Bubbling paint and discoloration similar to water damage on your walls and/or ceilings.
- Termite tunnels or "mud tubes" running up vertical structures, outside or underneath your home and particularly around your foundation.
- Small holes in your drywall with tiny specks of dirt or even termite mud tubes visible upon close examination.
- Any pattern of wood damage that follows the woodgrain, creating a "ribbed" effect in the wood around your home.
- Wood that sounds hollow when tapped.
- Mounds of what look like tiny wood pellets (termite fecal matter or frass) in and around your home's wooden structures may indicate a drywood termite infestation.
Remember, too, that termites find excessive moisture attractive. Be aware of any moldy and mildewy odors, which can tip you off to a possible preferred dwelling area. Should you spot termite soldiers or suspect you're seeing signs of termite activity, request an inspection from one of our pest control professionals.