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Termites (Subterranean Termites)
Termites (Subterranean Termites)

Termites (Subterranean Termites)


  • Color: winged reproductives are dark brown to almost black with brownish-grey wings; soldiers have white bodies and yellow-brown heads.
  • Size: 3/8 inch long.
  • Wings have a few hairs and two dark veins on the leading edge.
  • They have a very small pore (i.e., fontanelle) on their heads.
  • Soldiers have rectangular heads which are two times longer than their width and large mandibles which lack teeth.

Habits of Subterranean Termites:

  • Eastern subterranean termites are found from Ontario southward and from the eastern United States seaboard as far west as Mexico, Arizona and Utah. Western subterranean termites are found along the Pacific Coast to western Mexico and east into Idaho and Nevada.
  • Subterranean termite colonies are usually located in the soil from which the workers build mud tubes to structural wood where they then feed.
  • Subterranean termite colonies are always connected to the soil and/or close to a moisture source.
  • A mature queen produces 5,000 to 10,000 eggs per year.
  • An average colony consists of 60,000 to 250,000 individuals; however, colonies numbering in the millions are possible.
  • Queens live for up to 30 years and workers as long as five years.
  • Subterranean termite colonies are established by winged reproductives which usually appear in the spring. Swarms usually occur in the morning after a warm rain.

Damage From Subterranean Termites:

  • This is the second most destructive termite species to infest structures within the United States.
  • An average size colony consumes 14 linear feet of pine studs within one year.
  • Within three months, they can cause extensive damage to wood within structures.

Look for:

  • Swarmers.
  • Wood damage, i.e., the spring, or soft wood is eaten out leaving paper-thin walls between the galleries.subterranean termites
  • Mud tubes.
  • Points of entry into the structure, moisture problems and other contributing factors.
  • Sound structural timbers with a screwdriver or other sharp instrument in order to find galleries which have been excavated inside the wood.

How to Control and Kill Subterranean Termites:

  • Any scrap wood, firewood, and any other wood materials in contact with the soil should be removed.
  • At least six inches between wood and/or foam insulation and exterior soil grade should be maintained.
  • At least 18 inches between soil in a crawl space and the floor joists should be maintained.
  • Water leaks and situations in which there is more than 15% wood moisture content must be repaired.
  • Drainage around the structure should be designed so that there is no accumulation of water near the foundation. Particular attention should be paid to situations which might contribute to this condition, e.g., poor exterior soil grades, planter boxes, sprinkler systems, air conditioner condensate drains, lack of gutters, gutter down spouts, etc.
  • Infested wood should be removed and replace it with treated wood; however, this usually does not stop the termites from gaining access to wood within the structure.
  • A number of strategies are available to control subterranean termites that require the services of a pest control company. They include spot-treatment, barrier insecticide treatments, and baiting.

Note: Treatment for Formosan termites should be performed only by licensed professional pest control operators.

Innovative Pest Management serves the Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland area. Call us at (240) 755-0077 to schedule a free quote or appointment.