How To Identify Subterranean Termites

Posted on: 16 September 2015

An important item on your routine annual home maintenance schedule should be a termite inspection that should carried out by your local pest control contractor like Expect the Best Pty Ltd.  In between inspections, you should keep an eye out for signs of termite presence too.  Different species of termites leave different evidence of their presence, and it can be helpful to the pest controller if you can identify which species may be present, as they are all treated in slightly different ways. 

Here's how to tell if you have subterranean termites on your property.

Signs of subterranean termites

An invasion by subterranean termites usually occurs when the weather warms up and there's a period of heavy rainfall.  The rain triggers the 'swarming' of sexually mature, winged male and female termites from an already established colony, taking flight to seek a new location in which to establish a new base.

Swarming subterranean termites should not be mistaken for flying ants.  Termite swarmers are smaller than ants and have four wings of equal size.  Flying ants have two large front wings and two smaller ones behind.  Following swarming, termites shed their wings.  You may notice piles of shed wings on the windowsills inside and outside of your home; they look rather like fish scales.  Look carefully at the wings.  If they're all the same size, they are probably from termite swarmers.

Subterranean termites rarely venture out into the open, but if you actually spot any moving around, they're pretty easy to distinguish from other innocent creepy-crawlies.  The insects are about larger than common ants and are cream-coloured, often with a brown head.  Soldier termites are a little larger with obvious brown mandibles.

Subterranean termite habits

As their name suggests, subterranean termites establish their colonies underground and are consequently very difficult to detect.  The structures are made of a network of tunnels and chambers which the insects build from mud and saliva.  The presence of a colony is often only given away when the insects come above ground in search of food (wood).  You probably won't see the actual termites, but you may spot the tunnels they construct in which to move around.  Look for tiny tubes of mud on the walls or foundations of your home – this is a sure sign of a subterranean termite infestation.  

Subterranean termites eat the cellulose material contained in wood.  Look out for obvious signs of damage to wood in and around your home including floorboards, skirting boards, furniture and even books.  You might notice small piles of tiny brown pellets around your home.  These are termite faeces; a sure sign that you may have an infestation.

In conclusion

Make sure you have your home inspected for termites every year by a professional.  In between inspections, be vigilant and report any signs of a subterranean termite infestation immediately to your local pest control company.