Subterranean Termites

( Family Rhinotermitidae )

Characteristics

SIZE: The size of subterranean termites depends on its caste. Workers measure one-eighth to three-eighths of an inch in length. Soldiers are as long as workers, but have larger heads with powerful mandibles. Both supplementary and primary reproductives measure about 1 inch in length.

COLOR: Similarly, subterranean termites differ in color by caste. Workers are cream-colored and pale. Soldiers are also this light color, but their heads are brown. Supplementary reproductives are this same, opaque shade, but primary reproductives are brown or black.

BEHAVIOR: The three main types of subterranean termites – workers, soldiers and swarmers – have specific jobs to do within the colony, and each is uniquely equipped with the tools they need to get the job done. Some termites have eyes. Some don't.

Subterranean termite workers are small, opaque insects that can separate wood or other cellulose from its source. Workers live their entire lives in dark tunnels, both above and below ground. They do not have eyes because they do not need them. But, interestingly enough, they can still tell the difference between light and dark. They know being in the light means they are in danger of predator attacks, not to mention losing valuable moisture from their bodies. When worker termites find themselves in the light, they return to the dark as quickly as they can.

As the colony grows, supplementary termite queens help lay eggs and increase the size of the colony. Subterranean termite swarmers – another form of reproductive termites – develop when the colony is three to five years old and eventually leave the colony to start a new one of their own. These subterranean termites have eyes that are much more developed since they have to leave the security of the dark nest and mud tunnels. Out of all three types of termites, they’re the only ones that can see.

Habitats

As their name indicates, subterranean termites live several feet below ground in bustling colonies.

Tips for Control

Termite attacks are subtle, often going undetected for many years. Over time, they can cause serious damage. Don’t wait for termites to show themselves. Trained specialists know where to look and what to do to keep termites out. They can give you the protection you need and the peace of mind you deserve.

For termite prevention:

  • Store all firewood away from the home.

  • Make sure four inches of the foundation is showing and no mulch is touching the home. Siding should not extend down into the soil.

  • Keep drainage systems unblocked and routing water away from the home to prevent buildup.

  • Eliminate leaks and moisture from the home in general.

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