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Subterranean Termite

Size: 1/4 inch

Color: Brown

Where found: Moist ground and wood

Potential treatment: Interior

Subterranean termites are the most widespread and most destructive of termites in the United States. Workers are about 1/4 of an inch long and light in color. Soldiers have elongated brown heads with mandibles and light bodies. Neither has wings. The swarmers are dark brown and have two sets of wings, which they may or may not shed after swarming.

The colonies of subterranean termites are underground. These pests depend on moisture to survive, but they eat primarily wood and some cellulose material, including books and plants. They build mud tunnels, or tubes, to search for food, filling in the eaten wood with mud and dirt.

The queen and supplementary reproductives in the colony can lay tens of thousands of eggs rapidly, but development is lengthy, with adult swarmers often not leaving a colony for more than four years. Colonies can grow to 1 million members.

Signs of an infestation usually include an odd layering in the wood where it has been damaged, and mud left behind that fills the damaged areas. These termites will eat only the soft wood and eat with the grain.

Subterranean termites cause 95% of the termite damage in North America, and the cost is estimated at more than $2 billion. A professional inspection is always recommended to determine if your home has termite damage and catch it before it becomes a serious problem.