Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite to infest homes in the United States. As their name suggests, they attack homes from underground, entering homes through small spaces, where wood meets the ground. A colony consists of reproductives, workers and soldiers. Each individual type of termite has a distinctive appearance. Worker termites are creamy-white, wingless and are the most numerous in the colony. Workers gather food, feed the others, build tunnels, etc. Soldiers have large heads with two large jaws or mandibles. The soldiers defend the colony against invaders, the main enemy being ants. Workers and soldiers are seldom seen unless an infested area is opened to expose an infestation. Winged reproductives (swarmers) are dark brown to black and have two pairs of wings, much longer than the length of their bodies. Swarmer termites are often confused with flying ants.
Subterranean termites can fit through cracks as thin as a standard business card. These termites build underground nests or several interconnected nests in soil, where they keep the moisture that is essential for their survival. They create tunnels to travel to access their food. Mud tubes along walls can indicate their presence.
Image provided by University of Florida IFAS