Species: subterranean termite (Reticulitermes spp.)
Distribution: many areas of U.S.
Environment: found in soil, moist areas
Behavior: constructs shelter tubes, without fecal pellets
Description: workers and soldiers are about 0.25 in.; alates are about 0.5 in.
Species: Formosan termite (Coptotermes formosanus)
Distribution: along Gulf and southern Atlantic coasts, Florida, Hawaii
Environment: structural lumber, plants; can penetrate soft metal and concrete
Behavior: constructs shelter tubes and carton; swarm on warm evenings, after rain
Description: soldiers have oval heads and a distinct, horn-like gland. Alates are pale, yellow-brown and about 0.5 in.
Species: drywood termite (Incisitermes spp.)
Distribution: Southern and coastal areas
Environment: dry areas
Behavior: excretes oval, six-sided fecal pellets into piles through kickholes
Description: soldiers and alates are as long as 0.5 in.
Species: powderpost termite (Cryptotermes spp.)
Distribution: Southern and subtropical areas
Environment: dry wood, furniture, woodwork and floors
Behavior: excretes small fecal pellets
Description: soldiers have profoundly concave brown or black heads; alates are about 0.5 in.
Species: dampwood termite (Zootermopsis spp.)
Distribution: Western U.S., British Columbia to California
Environment: damp, decaying wood
Behavior: excretes large, oval fecal pellets — only soldiers and alates (no workers)
Description: largest termite in species in U.S.; alates are 1 in., with wings twice the body length
Dr. Mitchell, D.O., Ph.D., M.P.H., B.C.E., a board-certified physician and entomologist, is principal technical specialist for PestWest Environmental, as well as PMP’s Technical Editor. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 515-333-8923.
Termites are no joke– the variety among subspecies hold differing abilities to annihilate and overtake your home. It’s really challenging to completely lock down a house from them.