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What do Termites Look Like?

In: Termites

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ground termites

This is a fair question. After all, most of us have never really seen a termite up close and personal. Sure, we may have seen the caste of termite known as the ‘reproductives’ as they swarm and fly around especially after a nice, warm rain shower; but termites differ in appearance depending on their job within the colony and the type of termite. Most termites remain well hidden underground or deep inside wood and are only ever discovered when you dig into a major renovation project or when you are forced to notice them due to the massive amount of damage to your home. These elusive and somewhat mysterious creatures cost property owners in the U.S. billions of dollars annually in repair and replacement costs, most of which is not even covered by homeowner insurance policies and that fact alone makes it pretty important for you to know exactly what you are looking for when it comes to termites.

So, let’s take a look at these creatures here in Hawaii. There are two basic species of termite that you will want to be on the lookout for here: the drywood termite and the subterranean termite (or ground termite). Although both are termites, they differ in appearance and in the type of damages that they do.

The Drywood termite:

Drywood termite reproductives, which are the ones you are most likely to see, are typically dark brown or tan with clear to smoky gray wings. The wings will have distinctive veins running through them. When looking at these creatures from above, they may seem to be a head with a large pair of wings attached although if you turn them over you can clearly see their insect-like segments. The soldiers are a more red/brown color and have an enlarged head and a strong large jaw. The immatures are white or beige and are wingless. They are ¼ to 3/8 inches long and make up the majority in a colony. Drywood termites do not have a separate worker caste as the immatures fulfill that duty.

These termites do not have the need to remain hidden in the soil in order to survive because they get their moisture from the wood that they infest. This means that they can infest a home from the air which makes it much harder to detect these swarms. They prefer hardwood over soft or water damaged wood and are commonly found infesting window and door frames and antique furniture.

Some common characteristics of drywood termites include:

  • They live in smaller colonies of a few thousand with colonies developing rather slowly.

  • They do not require contact with soil to live and do not form mud tubes.

  • They prefer dry, sound wood.

  • Swarms can occur year-round.

  • They can only be seen if you break open the wood that they are hidden inside.

  • Infestations are not usually discovered until damages are severe.

  • Cannot eradicate on your own.

The Subterranean Termite:

Subterranean termite reproductives are dark brown to black with brownish-grey wings and often resemble a flying ant. This caste can often be seen swarming after a rain on a warm, sunny spring day. Soldiers are light tan with long, narrow amber heads and no eyes. This caste does not have wings. They have strong jaws and have the duty of protecting the colony which can number in the hundreds of thousands. The workers are small, wingless creatures that resemble the soldiers except that they have a shorter head.

These termites have the need to remain in constant contact with the soil in order to maintain moisture levels. This is why they build mud tubes along the top of the ground near foundations and running up the foundation into the wooden structures.

Therefore, these termites will only infest from the ground which makes them difficult to detect. Commonly, the first obvious sign of an infestation is severe damages to your home such as sagging walls and floors. These creatures prefer any type of wood that has been damaged by water.

Some common characteristics of subterranean termites include:

  • They live in the soil in massive colonies numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

  • They form tunnels to enter buildings to consume damp wood.

  • They prefer moist, water damaged wood.

  • Swarms can occur year-round but are more common in the spring and fall.

  • Infestation is usually seen not until damages are severe.

  • Cannot eradicate on your own.

Now that you know some of the facts about termites in Hawaii, the only question left is, “How do I protect my home or business from termites?” Fortunately, for those of us here in Hawaii, this question has one simple answer. Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions. As the premier pest control specialist in Hawaii and a leader in the pest control industry, Sandwich Isle Pest has the experience and expertise to not only eliminate existing termite colonies, but we can also help prevent subterranean termites from invading in the first place when our licensed operators install and maintain the renowned Sentricon® Termite Colony Elimination System. If Drywood termites are the species that you are struggling with, we offer tent and chamber fumigation and borate treatments to eliminate them. Either way, your termite issues will disappear when you partner with Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions for your termite solution.

Tags: termites in hawaii  |  termite treatments in Hawaii  |  drywood termites vs subterranean termites

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