Insect Guide: What do Termites Look Like?

There are over 2,500 types of termites worldwide that cause billions of dollars of damage each year. While you probably do not need to know what exotic Asian termites look like, you should definitely learn to identify the ones that might be creeping in your own backyard.

What Are the Most Common Termites in the United States?

The biggest termite populations can be classified into three groups: subterranean, dampwood and drywood. Each looks drastically different from the others. Their markings are very different, but their body shapes are all similar. Termites resemble flying ants with a few key differences. They have a thick thorax, straight antennae and wings of equal length.

What Do Subterranean Termites Look Like?

Subterranean termites, the most common termites in North America, are an extremely pale yellow color, bordering on translucence. Winged subterranean termites have the same body markings with smoky or milky white translucent wings.

What Markings Do Dampwood Termites Have?

Dampwood termites inhabit much of the Pacific Northwest but are also sparingly found in swamp parts of Florida and Louisiana. They derive their name from the damp, rotting wood that they inhabit. Their markings are a drastic difference to their subterranean counterparts. Dampwood termites have red or brown heads with bright yellow and orange bodies. Their wings are a translucent white. The damage they cause is typically not visible to the naked eye, so spotting these economic and environmental pests requires a keen eye.

How Are Drywood Termites Identified?

Drywood termites are difficult to locate due to their propensity to build colonies inside of wooden boxes or structures. You are most likely to encounter a colony after noticing the presence of fecal pellets. The termites themselves have brown and black heads and bodies that begin black and fade to white by the end of their wings. Drywood termites survive in the driest of desert climates, as they get all the moisture they need from the wood they eat. The wood furniture or foundations in your home that are eaten by drywood termites appear smooth, almost as if they had been sanded and buffed.

With a keen eye and maybe a magnifying glass, you can identify these destructive pests in or around your home. Termites look like many other insects, but by following this guide, you are sure to find them before they wreak havoc on your home and your furniture.

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Recent Comments & Questions

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Do termites look like ants?

Only in the most basic sense. Two ways to tell them apart: 1) Ants have a thin, "nipped in" waist - termites are thick waisted. 2) Termites are usually grayish/white. Ants rar (MORE)

What do termites look like?

Termites look like ants. It's a pale, soft-bodied insect.
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