subterranean termite colony in texas homeWHAT DO SUBTERRANEAN TERMITES LOOK LIKE?

Subterranean termites, the Reticulitermes Termites in particular, are colonies of termites divided into a caste system based on their "job". For example, there are worker termites, soldiers, and reproductive termites. Each type will have a slightly different appearance. Worker Reticulitermes termites are between 1/8 and 3/8 of an inch in length. Soldiers are about the same length but have a large brown head and more powerful mandible, while the reproductive termites are about ½ inch long. 


Subterranean Reticulitermes termites live in colonies underground and build mud tube structures to travel about and find food sources while protecting themselves from open air. When they do live above ground, they pick secluded, moist areas. Mature subterranean termite colonies can have anywhere from 20,000 worker termites to 5 million workers! Termite colonies grow amazingly fast because the primary queen termite lays between 5,000 and 10,000 eggs annually.


Subterranean termites eat the same things other termites eat, including cellulose materials found in the structural wood of buildings, in paper, cotton, and books.


There are many similarities between carpenter ants and subterranean termites, but some major differences as well. Both the ant and termite have antennae, but they look different. For example, the termite's antennae are straight and if you look close, appear as if they are made from tiny round beads. Carpenter ant antennae are more like a stick with a slight bend in them, like an elbow. Termite bodies appear to be all one piece whereas the carpenter ant has a waist that tapers inward between the thorax and abdomen. Both ants and termites have two pairs of wings, but the termite wings appear to be a single, white wing because they are stacked on top of each other.

Termites tend to stick to a menu of cellulose products while carpenter ants will eat pet food, honey, fruit, syrup, and even meats. You will find carpenter ants excavating wood to make a nest, but they don't eat the wood like termites do.

Finally, the biggest difference may be in the amount of damage the two insects cause.  Carpenter ants cause hundreds of millions of dollars in damage annually, but termites are associated with property damage in the billions of dollars. 


The Reticulitermes termites are the most destructive of termite species when it comes to property damages. They are blamed for billions of dollars in property damages every year. This species has teeth that work like saws, and can bite off fragments of wood. When termites have infested wood, the structure will appear completely normal from the outside at first, while the inside will resemble a honeycomb with missing chunks of wood where the termites have gnawed through and broken pieces off.


Innovative Pest Control relies on the Sentricon® System for termite control and elimination. It focuses on destroying the Queen and her expansive colony without harming your home, lawn, or landscaping. The bait used in the Sentricon® System is preferred by the termites over wood, so they will consume it. The bait prevents the termites from molting, which in turn kills the termites. The termite bait is a non-chemical solution that meets the strict requirements of the Reduced Risk Pesticide Initiative set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. Let us help you with your termite infestation – give us a call today!


There are several strategies to prevent termites, including:

  • Removing wood lying on the ground near your home
  • If a tree falls on your property, grind the stump and roots up
  • Dig out shrubs that die and remove all woody parts
  • Keep wooden siding off the ground
  • Eliminate all plumbing leaks and direct water from gutters away from the house
  • Do not put mulch against the foundation of your house

Helpful Articles

How Much Damage Can Termites Really Cause?

What Do Termites Look Like?

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