If you want to protect your home from termites, then it’s important to know the different types of termites and the threats they pose your home.
Not all termite types, or species, are considered destructive to homes. But if you suspect that termites are in your home, it is best to hire a termite control professional with the tools and expertise to find the most effective solution for you. To help you get started, here are descriptions of the three most common types of termites found in the U.S.
Termite species and where they are commonly found
Each species of termite has unique traits and habitat preferences. The three types that are considered pests in the U.S. are the native subterranean termite, the drywood termite and the Formosan termite, which is actually a species of subterranean termites. While these pests live in different areas and have unique characteristics, they share a common behavior: They can all chew through wood undetected.
Region: Found in every U.S. state except Alaska; extremely common in southern states and hotter climates
There are at least seven species of subterranean termites common in the U.S. They include the:
- Eastern subterranean termite (the most common)
- Formosan subterranean termite (not native to the U.S.)
- Dark southeastern subterranean termite
- Light southeastern subterranean termite
- Western subterranean termite
- Arid land subterranean termite
- Desert subterranean termite
Subterranean termites nest in the soil and migrate upward to feed on the wooden structures in homes. These types of termites can form large colonies. The Formosan termite is particularly destructive due to its larger colony size. Formosan termites can be distinguished from other subterranean termites by their darker, yellow-brown body color. The workers look like most other worker termites, while the soldiers have a distinctive oval-shaped head that differs from the rectangular-shaped heads of the Eastern subterranean termites. We'll detail this termite some more below.
Region: Southern part of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and all of Florida
There are three common species of drywood termites in the U.S., including the:
- Southeastern drywood termite
- West Indian drywood termite
- Western drywood termite, also known as the desert drywood termite
These types of termites nest in the dry wood primarily found in wood structures, frames, flooring and furniture. They receive all of their nutrition from wood and, unlike other termites, do not require moisture from soil. Drywood termites can create multiple colonies within a home. While they are uncommon in cooler climates, they can survive in northern climates under the right conditions.
Region: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia
Formosan termites are one of the most aggressive and destructive types of termites. Like other termites, these termites are known for destroying wood by boring tunnels through walls. Just one Formosan termite colony can potentially contain more than 10 million individual termites taking up residence in a plot of soil.
Keeping your home free from termites
Termites can live in your home without you noticing. That's why an annual inspection by a trained termite professional is important. A customized treatment or protection plan, which includes an annual inspection, is your best defense against termites and the damage they can cause.