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Types of Termites-Complete Guide on the Different Species


Reading Time: 7 minutes

When people think about termites, they often relate them with their dangerous love of eating wood. However, there’s much more to them than that. For starters, there are many types of termites. Also, they vary in the levels of damage they cause to properties. Finally, you should know they’re known as silent destroyers because they can cause significant damage without being noticed.

In this article, we’ll present you with a complete guide on the different species you should know about, along with how to differentiate them and where they live. Then, all you have to do is read on!


The most common termite species are famously known; the Subterranean termites love living underground. So you’d be surprised to learn that those sneaky pests can build massive colonies that contain millions of termites. In addition, they can’t survive in dry conditions. So instead, they make damp mud tubes to help them move around quickly, like many other termite species.

As for food, Subterranean termites feed on trees, timbers, and fence posts in houses. That’s why they’re deemed one of the most damaging types of termites.

If you want to easily detect Subterranean termites in your wooden furniture, you should occasionally check for tiny holes in your wood. They often resemble a honeycomb. Finally, Subterranean termites are divided into six easily identifiable groups that live in the US.

Arid-Land Subterranean

US Regions: West Coast, Southwest, Rocky Mountain States, Midwest, and South

The first type of termite is the arid-land subterranean. It can be divided into three different categories to identify it, as all other termites.

Firstly, the adult reproductives adorn a dark brown color, can reach up to half an inch in length and have transparent wings. Secondly, the soldiers can fight off enemies using their large mandibles and are nearly as large as adult reproductives. Finally, the worker type resembles ants.

In general, arid-land subterranean termites like creosote and greasewood types. If you want to ensure you don’t have infested wood in your house, you should check for discarded wings near your house doors and windows. Also, it’d be best if you looked for intricate mud nests around your place.

Desert Subterranean

US Regions: Southeastern California and Southern Arizona

Generally, desert Subterranean termites live in arid conditions and have tiny sizes. For starters, the adult reproductives have a brownish-yellow color that distinguishes them from other types. Also, they’re usually half an inch long. Second, the soldier termites are a bit larger and have rectangle-shaped heads.

For this termite species to survive, it needs timbers, woody plants, or utility poles as food sources. Moreover, they can form large underground colonies containing up to 300,000 members and more. They like to build mud tunnels for ultimate protection and accessible food sources.

A desert subterranean infestation can usually be detected by the appearance of mud tubes around the house. However, they also like to attack softwood and leave small holes in it. Accordingly, if you notice holes in your wood, you should take immediate action and contact professional pest control.


US Regions: South: Alabama, Florida, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee

Formosan termites take a proud stance as one of the most aggressive types of termites. They can cause catastrophic damage to properties, mainly because they can multiply at a fast speed. Accordingly, they’re increasingly difficult to control.

Regarding colonies, Formosan termites can form massive colonies with millions of pests. Unfortunately, they can quickly enter your home through soil, woods, and mud tubes. Also, they like moving through cracks and crevices in any wooden wall, so you should seal those whenever you see them in your house.

If you want to detect a Formosan subterranean termite infestation, you should look for shed wings, wood damage, and swarming termites.

Eastern Subterranean

US Regions: East Coast, Southeast, Midwest, and parts of New England

The eastern subterranean termites are the most organized type. They have an intricate system that they use to form huge underground colonies. For example, each member has a specific role they carry out to keep the colony going. First, the workers of this type help in feeding the entire colony. Moreover, they can be differentiated by their light cream color.

Second, the soldiers mainly protect the colony from outer dangers. For that, they have massive jaws that they use to fight off enemies. Lastly, adult reproductives are famous for having wings. Like other types, an eastern termite infestation can be detected by the presence of discarded wings and mud tunnels, especially near doors and windows.

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Dark Southeastern Subterranean

US Regions: East Coast: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina

Dark southeastern subterranean termites are usually one-third of an inch long with a brownish-black color adorning their bodies. The adult reproductives of this type lay eggs to expand their colonies, while the cream-colored workers mainly maintain the colony. Moreover, the soldiers have massive mouthparts that give them the ability to defend their colonies.

Mainly, those subterranean termites eat structural lumber, plywood, and pine wood to survive. So if you want to detect their infestation, you should look for honeycomb-like holes in your wood. Moreover, check for mud tubes and damaged wood.

Western Subterranean

US Regions: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, and Nevada

Unlike other termite species, western subterranean termites have a ruling queen. It’s mainly responsible for reproduction and expanding the colony. Interestingly enough, those termites can feed on fallen trees, wood decays, and stumps. That said, they have a feeding system called trophallaxis. It mainly consists of exchanging gut contents among members of the colony.

Infestation signs of those termites are damaged wood, mud tubes, and wood holes, like most subterranean species.


Drywood termites are famous for attacking wood structures, hardwood floors, wooden wall supports, roof materials, and furniture for nutrients. Interestingly, they don’t need moisture to survive. Moreover, they have enormous mouthparts along with large noticeable wings. They can be divided into the following categories.

Western Drywood

US Regions: Southwest: Arizona and California

Western drywood termite colonies are known for being unusually small. They usually consist of only 3,000 members or so. For starters, the soldiers of this termite species sport brown heads with massive mouthparts. Moreover, the adult reproductives have unique smokey black wings with bodies that can reach up to half an inch.

Generally, those dry wood termites infect doors, frames, and attics. Their infestation can be easily detected by shed wings, fecal pellets, and damaged woods.

Southeastern Drywood

US Regions: South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas

Southeastern drywood termites are known for eating wood, which is munching across its grains. They look nearly the same as the other drywood termites in terms of appearance. In addition, they can live well in low-moisture conditions. Like the western drywood termites, those also form small colonies and leave termite swarmers and fecal pellets as infestation signs.

Desert Drywood

US Regions: Arizona and Southeastern California

The adult reproductives of this termite species fashion a light yellow color and enormous wings. Meanwhile, the soldiers defend their colony against outer dangers with their strong mouthparts that help in differentiating them from the other types. Finally, the worker termites are all in the nymphal stage. Therefore, they’re mainly responsible for feeding the colony and maintaining it.

As for feeding habits, this termite species mainly survives on wooden structures and trees. In addition, dry wood termites leave behind fecal pellets with an oval shape and dead swarmers.


Dampwood termites are called that because they mainly infest high-moisture wood. However, they can live without soil, so you’ll commonly find them sneaking around deadwood and moist woodpiles.

What makes identifying those termites easy is that they’re bigger than most termites, and they have big brownish-red heads.

Desert Dampwood

US Regions: Southwest: Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California

Naturally, desert damp wood termites feed on damp wood to survive. Accordingly, you’re most likely to see them living in wet wood structures. Moreover, they have dotted abdomens with yellow and brown colors.

Like many other termites, those form tunnels in wood that look ultra-smooth to the extent that you may think someone smoothed the walls with sandpaper.

Florida Dampwood

US Regions: South Florida and the Florida Keys

Florida dampwood termites are commonly known as the largest species of termites found on the eastern side of the US. Like all dampwood termites, they only survive in humid places where water is easily accessible. However, they don’t tunnel into the soil. Instead, they infest woods through building galleries in structures.

To know whether you have a Florida dampwood termite infestation, you should look for shed wings, adult caste, and fecal pellets.

Nevada Dampwood

US Regions: Nevada, Idaho, and Montana

Nevada dampwood termites live in small colonies with an average of 4,000 members. Moreover, they’re likely to live in highly susceptible places to tidal flooding. The adult reproductives of this dampwood termites species fashion brown bodies that may reach up to 3/4 inches long, while the soldiers have brownish heads and massive mouthparts.

Pacific Dampwood

US Regions: California, Oregon, and Washington

Commonly known as the rotten wood termites, Pacific dampwood termites prefer highly moist wood as a living habitat. Interestingly, they can survive without the soil, but they need dampwood to live. As a result, they’re most likely to infest wood in contact with the ground, commonly found around house constructions.

In addition, those termites can also be found under fallen dead trees, in structural timbers, and roof materials. To detect their infestation, you should primarily look for shed wings.

Conehead Termites

US Regions: Florida and Caribbean

In the past, this species was called tree termites. However, since this name has led many people to assume it only lives in trees, it was later changed to conehead termites. This is mainly because their heads take the shape of dark-colored cones. Moreover, they’re known for being aggressive because they can cause catastrophic damage in such a short time.

Interestingly, conehead termite colonies mainly consist of soldiers. Unlike the narrow tubes that most termite species form, they also like to build wide tunnels to infest wood. As for feeding habits, conehead termites love cellulose. Accordingly, they majorly feed on paper products, trees, shrubs, timber, and furniture.

A conehead termite infestation can usually be detected by the appearance of intricate tunnel networks around your place.

Desert Termites

US Regions: West Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona

Desert termites prefer to live in living and dead grass. But, interestingly, they have a unique ability to build moisture-retentive tubes made out of cartons, which are a mix of moist soil, feces, and saliva. Those tunnels help desert termites fight dryness and loss of moisture.

The workers of this species are highly abundant, and they’re mainly responsible for providing the colony with food. Meanwhile, the soldiers protect the colony with their distinctive mouthparts. Finally, the adult reproductives have wings and brown bodies that can reach up to half an inch in length.

To Wrap Up

In addition to termites being highly diverse, they can also inflict significant damage on wood. The main types you should know about are subterranean, drywood, dampwood, conehead, and desert termites. They resemble each other in feeding habits and infesting woods; however, they differ in many other aspects.

We hope you have enough information about the different termite species now!

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