Subterranean Termites

Family Rhinotermitidae

Color: Creamy white to dark brown/black
Shape Long, narrow, and oval
Size 1/8 inch long
Region Found throughout the U.S.


Subterranean termite colonies are organized into castes depending on tasks – workers, soldiers, and reproductives. The characteristics of a subterranean termite are dependent on the termite’s role in the colony. Worker subterranean termites are 1/8 to 3/8 inch long. Soldier subterranean termites are of a similar body length, but are distinguished by their powerful mandibles and large brown heads. Reproductive subterranean termites are approximately 1/2 inch long.


Subterranean termites live in underground colonies or in moist secluded areas above ground. They build distinctive “mud tubes” to gain access to food sources and to protect themselves from open air. Like other termite species, they feed on products containing cellulose. Subterranean termites swarm in the spring when groups of reproductive termites go off to start new colonies.


Subterranean termites are by far the most destructive termite species. The hard, saw-toothed jaws of termites work like shears and are able to bite off extremely small fragments of wood, one piece at a time. They can cause severe property damage.

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