What Do Termites Look Like

Believe it or not, termites have been around for over 100 million years. If you come across a termite, you may mistake it for an ant. This blog will answer the common question of “What do termites look like?”

According to Pest World, there are nearly 2,000 known termite species in the world but only a few present a threat for homeowners in the United States. We’re going to show you what these several types of termites so you can be prepared if you come across them!

Common Termites and What They Look Like

Knowing what termites look like is one of the most important parts of termite control because treatments vary depending on the species.

Subterranean Termites

Color: creamy white to dark brown/black
Size: 1/8 of an inch long with six legs
Location: can be found in every state except Alaska

Formosan Termites

Formosan termites are very similar looking compared to the Subterranean termite.

Color: creamy white to brown
Size: 1/2 an inch long with six legs
Shape: long, narrow and oval
Location: found in Southern Regions of the United States

This species has swarmers that are also known as “flying termites” which are often confused with ants.

Dampwood Termites

Color: creamy white to brownish color
Size: 1/2 to 5/8 of an inch long with six legs
Shape: long, narrow and oval in shape
Location: found throughout the pacific coast and adjacent states, the desert or semi-arid southwest and southern Florida.

Drywood Termites

Color: creamy white to light brown
Size: 3/8 to 1 inch long with six legs
Shape: long, narrow and oval
Location: primarily found coastally from South Carolina westward to Texas and up the west coast of California.

Conehead Termites

Color: cream bodies with dark brown heads
Size: 3 – 4 mm with six legs
Shape: long and narrow; soldier termites have a pear-shaped head
Location: According to the Florida Department of Agriculture, the only known occurrence of these termites in the United States were found in Broward County, Florida. Otherwise, they can be found in the Caribbean and Central American tropical countries such as Panama.

Do all termites leave the colony?

No. Not all the termites will leave the colony because they all have different roles. These roles include:

  • Worker Termites – this is the most common termite in a colony. They do the most damage due to their chewing mouthparts.
  • Soldier Termites – these make up a smaller percentage of the colony and often have a darker head. They defend the colony from attack of other pests such as ants.
  • Swarmer Termites – these are a winged reproductive form of termite. They will often fly to a new location and start new colonies. A male and female swarmer will pair, drop their wings and become the king and queen of a new colony.

Knowing what termites look like is one of the most important parts of controlling them because treatments vary depending on the species.

What are the signs of termite damage?

It’s not always possible to see evidence of a termite infestation. However, there are some signs that you should be aware of to help you identify if you have a potential termite problem. If you see any of these signs, you should contact a termite control professional immediately to determine the extent of the problem, a solution and prevention options:

  1. Mud tubes (termites use these to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home
  2. Soft wood inside the home that sounds hollow when tapped
  3. Darkening or blistering of wood structures
  4. Uneven or bubbling paint
  5. Small piles of feces that resemble sawdust
  6. Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills – indicating swarmers have entered the home.


Some termite colonies live 7-10 years
Colonies can contain millions of termites
Subterranean termites cause over $20 billion in damage around the world and about $11 billion in the U.S.