Subterranean Termites: Signs, Habits, Prevention & Treatment

The existence of termites in your property can be very destructive. Every year there’s an extraordinary loss because of termite infestation worldwide as well as in the United States. The amount of damage cost $5 billion in the US alone.

Nevertheless, there are different types of termites, and one of the most of common is the subterranean termite.

This termite can be seen anywhere. Dealing with this peril is very important, however, before taking the precautionary measures, other important facts should be regarded into and understood to get rid of them effectively.

What Do Subterranean Termites Look Like?

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  • Swarmers (Alates)

Swarmers or alates are flying adult termites. They have two pairs of fine wings and eyes that are functional. The colors are dark brown to black helps them in enduring water loss. Furthermore, swarmers are about ¼” to ½” long. These termites also have straight to somewhat curved, ornate antenna. Pictures of subterranean swarmers (click to enlarge):

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  • Workers

Unlike swarmers, workers don’t have wings. These ¼” or less in length termites are white or cream. Pictures of termite workers (click to enlarge):

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  • Soldiers

The soldier termites are recognized with their extended yellow-brown head as well as black and large mandibles. Soldiers, on the other hand, are creamy-white. Similar to workers, these termites are also wingless. Moreover, they have a soft body, and they’re blind.

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  • Queens

Termite queens are 10 centimeters or over one-inch in length. These termites have a white abdomen that’s hundred times larger compared to normal termites. Though their legs and head have the same size. However, subterranean termite queens can differ in color from pastel yellow-brown to black.

Signs of Subterranean Termites Infestation

  1. Mud Tubes

subterranean termite mud tubes

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One of the common signs of subterranean termite infestation is the existence of mud tubes. These termites build tubes on wood supports, concrete walls, and even areas around windows and doors.

  1. Wood Damage

Another common sign of subterranean infestation is the existence of blisters or dark areas in your wood flooring. But, this kind of damage might go unseen because termites only consume the wood leaving the outside surface and grain undamaged.

  1. Swarmers

If you see swarmers in your property, it means you have a subterranean termite infestation. These winged termites can be found in the light fixtures, around doors, and windows.

  1. Nest

If you find a nest in your attic, there’s a big possibility that there are Formosan subterranean termites in your property. The nest, on the other hand, will look like a packed mud that possess a color which is similar to the soil outside your house.

Subterranean Termites Damage

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Of the kinds of termites, undeniably, subterranean termites are in charge of the most damage to constructions.

Subterranean termite damage, however, takes place in the wood. Apart from that, they also cause damage in other materials or items that consists of cellulose. These destructive insects hollow out frames and support beams that deteriorates their structure.

subterranean termite damage

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On the other hand, these damages make it a lot easier for holes to grow in walls, floors, as well as furniture.

What Do They Eat?

Aforementioned, subterranean termites tend to eat wood and other materials that are cellulose-based. In addition to that, some colonies are eating cotton, wallpaper, books, and other items that are similar to it. Subterranean termites can also damage PVC pipes and even pool liners.

Where Do They Live?

  • In Ground

These type of termites normally live under the ground, hunting soil for their food source. However, any gap underground or exposed wood will allow termites to access on your home’s foundation resulting in significant damage.

  • House

In houses, subterranean termites tend to stay in concrete walls that have cracks. Also, they like to live in home foundations that are usually constructed using hollow blocks.

  • In the United States

Subterranean termites live in every region as well as states in the United States except in Alaska. Nevertheless, these termites live in Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, and other parts of the United States.

Habits of Subterranean Termite

  • Colony Size

Native subterranean termites have an average colony size of one-hundred thousand up to one million. Furthermore, healthy subterranean termite colonies may develop to be the size of one-million termites. Nevertheless, the bigger the colony size is, the bigger the damage.

  • Aggressiveness

Subterranean termites are aggressive creatures. The damage to the properties costs billions of dollars in the United States. Also, they are more destructive compared to fire and even storms.

  • Adaptability

Since these species of termites are ground-dependent, they can be very adaptable particularly in living together with humans in a human-modified environment. However, such adaptability may possibly put them in conflict with people.

How Do I Get Them?

Abovementioned, subterranean lives in the soil around and beneath your home. Often through wooden items which trace the ground or using building mud tubes/tunnels from the ground to the wood, they have infested.

Even so, foundations that are made using hollow blocks and crack in your concrete walls are the real culprits why subterranean termites are infesting your property.

How to Get Rid of Subterranean Termites?

  1. Treat Your Wood

A simple yet in effect wood curer can get rid of termites by increasing the wood’s strength. However, a small investment here could save you thousands of dollars for repairing the damage made by these insects. But keep in mind that as the time passes by the wood will become more prone to termites and softer.

  1. Consider Disinfecting Your Home

If the infestation is very serious, you may want to consider disinfecting your home. The good thing about this method is that it will treat every area of your house and even the structure/foundation in one go.

Nevertheless, disinfecting is only recommended if you see lots of colonies in a single structure. In this method, homeowners should contact a professional. Because fumigation or disinfecting isn’t something that should be done on your own.

  1. Use either non-repellents or repellents through a liquid application

A repellent works to irritate termites and will oblige the colony to back off from it. On the other hand, non-repellent items can’t be identified by termites with ease. Thus, they share it with the other termites in the nests and this results in scheming the strength of their colony.

Subterranean Termites Treatment Cost

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Subterranean termites are very costly to treat as well as guarantee. But, normally, eliminating subterranean termites cost for local issues is around 218 to 868 dollars. For the entire house, the average cost is $2500.

However, the scope, as well as the size of the subterranean termite colony which needs to be eliminated, will have a direct impact on the overall treatment cost.

Keep in mind that bigger colonies are costlier to remove compared to smaller ones.

Apart from that, there are also other factors that may affect the treatment cost such as:

  • Treatment that they exterminator will be using
  • Number of treatments needed
  • The kind of pest control company which you choose

Tips for Subterranean Termites Control

  • Eliminate Moisture

Termites, specifically subterranean termites cause more damage to property. These termites need lots of moisture in order to survive. Once they have found out a place that is rich with humidity they will start to construct their colonies.

Too much moisture combined around wooden materials might create some conditions that promote subterranean termite infestation. To avoid this from happening, monitoring the moisture level in your home is very important.

  • Get Rid of Termite Food Sources
  1. Put a screen on outdoor vents.
  2. Remove debris and stump near your house
  3. Keep paper, firewood, lumber away from crawl spaces or foundation
  4. Check wooden fences or decks for damage
  • Install Some Termite Bait Stations

Homeowners can control subterranean termites by installing bait stations in their property.

The majority of termite bait stations are using cellulose materials in order to control these destructive and underground insects. For better result, the stations should be supervised every three months.

  • Treat The Wood Materials Used in Constructing Your Home

Pretreating vulnerable parts like door and window casings, wall interiors, supports, and wood framing is one way to control subterranean termites. For instance, a professional termite technical can apply borate solutions to the exterior woods, wood studs, and piers for long-lasting protection.

Interesting Facts About Subterranean Termites

  1. Subterranean termites’ species, like Eastern subterranean termites, are dangerous. Also, they are hard to find out without the guidance of a professional.
  2. Subterranean termites need contact thru the soil in order to thrive underground and survive. That’s why they construct mud tubes or termite tubes in to order to protect their colonies against the open air and gain access to various food sources.
  3. Formosan termites, which is the common type of subterranean termites are labeled as “super termites.” This is because they consume wood at a faster rate and construct bigger colonies.
  4. Subterranean termites are nearly encountered in all regions of California. And at the same time, they are the most damaging termites in California.

Subterranean vs. Drywood Termites

Subterranean TermitesDrywood Termites
This type of termite builds their colonies in the soil. They construct a tunnel inside the mud and utilize them to gain access to their food sources.This termite resides within the wood that serves as their food source. Drywood termites, on the other hand, commonly infest walls and furniture.
The queens of subterranean termites, when found lifeless, will still have wings connected to their bodies.When the queens of drywood termites found lifeless, their wings will get separated from their bodies
Subterranean termites’ fecal pellets are moist.Drywood termites’ pellets are hard and dry.
Soldiers subterranean termites have a rectangular shape head,Soldiers of drywood termites have a round-shaped head.

Subterranean vs. Dampwood Termites

Subterranean TermitesDampwood Termites
Subterranean termites live a couple of feet below the ground in bustling colonies.Dampwood termites are mostly found in damper areas. Also, they infest damp and even decaying timber.
They create shelter tubes.This type of termite doesn’t make shelter tubes since they can live completely within the wood they’re consuming.
Subterranean termites are more commonly encountered in the United States.Dampwood termites are less commonly encountered in the US.
They do nest in dry wood or soil.They don’t nest in dry wood or soil.


Without a doubt, subterranean termites are the most damaging termites that may possibly cause serious damage. Thus, having enough knowledge regarding this type of termite is crucial.

Hopefully, this content gives you a better understanding of what exactly subterranean termites are, how to get rid of them, and how it differs from the other types.

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