Termites Look Different Depending on their Role in the Colony
Termite colonies have workers, soldiers and reproductive members. Each group has special physical characteristics that identifies what termites look like.
It’s essential to know which termite group is causing problems because each one is quite different biologically and, therefore, requires different methods of control. Identify the species to help both prevent termites and exterminate them.
Flying Ants vs. Flying Termites
There are a lot of interesting termite facts that may help you prevent and identify termite species. Termites with wings are often confused with other species, such as flying ants. But ants and termites have basic differences that make them easy to identify.
Termite antennas are straight, while ant antennae have a bend in them like the elbow of our own arm.
- Body Shape
Ants have three separate body parts with a very narrow and easy to see 'waist' between the thorax and abdomen. Termites look like one large lower abdomen section and no waist.
The four wings on flying termites are all the same size and shape. Wings on flying ants feature one larger and one smaller wing on each side.
While most ants are darker in color, worker termites look like a light colored and almost transparent insect with no eyes.
Termites of all Texas species include a flying, reproductive caste. New colonies are created when these winged termites swarm. Swarming typically occurs within ten days of rain. A single colony may have several swarms in a year, and not all colonies will swarm every year. It usually takes a new colony two to three years to start doing serious damage to structural wood.
After swarming and establishing a new home, reproductive termites shed their wings. One of the first signs of termites is discarded wings near window sills, door entries, exterior lighting, and vents.
Types of Termites in Austin, TX
There are four prominent types of termites found in the Travis County area according to Texas A & M University, and each has its own unique characteristics.
- Native Subterranean
- Formosan Subterranean
There are both native and Formosan subterranean termites in Austin. Subterranean colonies live underground in moist soil or near a water source. To get to wood that is not in contact with the soil, they build mud tubes or tunnels to access the wood. As they burrow up into wood, they leave behind hollow trails and spaces inside beams and boards.
Not native to Texas, but rapidly spreading, is the Formosan variety of subterranean termites. They were introduced in the 1950s through contaminated soils and wood. Known as 'Super Termites', Formosans grow larger, form larger colonies, and cause a lot more property damage faster than most other termite species.
Unlike Subterraneans, Drywood termites do not nest in the ground. Instead, they enter a structure through vents, cracks under eaves, and any small space they can to reach dry wood. They build their colony’s home right into the dry wood, consuming wood as they go, and depositing fecal pellets behind them.
Drywood termites do not need a water source because they can make their own water from the wood they eat. It's a process called oxidative metabolism. Drywood termites can live in any wood source, from baseboards to structural beams to furniture. They are harder to exterminate.
Also known as grass or desert termites, agricultural termites are not harmful to your home because they do not consume wood. Instead, they feed on agricultural waste like dead grass and hay.
Comprehensive Termite Inspection
If you suspect termites on your property, call YardDoc pest control for a thorough inspection by a certified technician.
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