What Are The Types Of Termites And Species?

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There are over 2500 types of termites in the world. These are found all over the world in different habitats, including forests. Now, obviously, I’m not going to list out all the species of termites! What I will do is tell you about the most commonly found types of termite species in homes in the United States of America! So, keep reading!

What are the different species and types of termites that can cause termite damage in your house?

There are essentially five types of termites that you need to be aware of. These are the subterranean termites, Formosan termites, drywood termites, dampwood termites, and conehead termites.

I’ve explained the characteristics of all these species in the following sections.

Subterranean termites

types of termites

Subterranean termite species are probably the most commonly found type of termite in Massachusetts and the United States. They live underground and build their nests there.

They can cause a lot of damage to homes and other buildings if they are not treated properly.

Subterranean termites usually invade homes and businesses from soil-to-structure or soil-to-wood contact. They can also build mud tubes to travel between the two. You will typically find them in the areas of your house that have rotting wood available.

The subterranean termite lives underground and feeds on wood. Actually, these termites feed on anything that contains the compound cellulose. Cellulose is the peak nutrition for this type of termite.

Therefore, items like paper, fabrics, and cardboard are also at risk of being devoured by subterranean termites!

Dark brown, sometimes near-blackish, with taupe or brown-gray wings, reproductive subterranean termites are usually quite distinct to look at. Soldiers have a light caramel color to them.

Swarmers are the only members of the colony with working wings and eyes, and they are darker and thicker. Workers are about an eighth of an inch long.

Subterranean termite colonies often include thousands of individuals. As the infestation increases, these individual termites will often start their own colonies with a mate!

This type of termite typically swarms during the humid days of the year. Moreover, because they need a decent amount of moisture in their environment, you are unlikely to find them in areas that are completely dry.

To protect themselves during locomotion, they construct mud tubes that could go as long as sixty feet!

Formosan termites

tunnels built by Formosan termites.

Formosan termites are essentially a subtype of the subterranean termite species that are considered to be invasive and destructive. They are found in the southern United States and can cause significant damage to homes and other structures.

The scientific name attributed to the Formosan termite species is Coptotermes formosanus. The fact is that these termites don’t stem from the USA.

However, because of their incredible ability to survive and increase the size of their colony, it takes them only a few years to achieve a headcount of over a few million termites.

Now, the interesting bit about Formosan termites is their ability to dig more than three hundred feet into the soil with the sole intention of protecting themselves and creating extensive networks through the soil.

Imagine a situation where Formosan termites begin to infest an area of land. And, your house is fairly close to that piece of land. It will only take a few years for the entire Formosan termite colony to construct a network under the soil that will inadvertently lead into your home!

Once these pests gain access to the advantages of food and shelter in your home, you will face the influx of a million Formosan termites. This behavior is what makes these termites so dangerous to homeowners in the USA.

Formosan termites are a particularly dangerous type of termite that can quickly overrun a property before the owner even knows they’re there. They build their nests underground and eat through wood, which can cause major damage to homes and businesses.

Formosan termites are identified by their orange-brown coloring, and their reproductive members may or may not have wings. Swarmers, or reproductive termites, will fly out of the colony to mate and start new colonies.

In other senses, the Formosan termite, being a subtype of subterranean termite, is fairly similar to subterranean termite species. Their main form of sustenance is cellulose. However, it is possible to find Formosan termites above the ground, whereas subterranean termites!

Dampwood termites

Dampwood termites are a type of termite that require moist conditions and wood with high moisture content to survive. They can be found in coastal areas, near rivers and streams, and in heavily forested areas.

Now, dampwood termite colonies have a slow growth rate, and soldiers only emerge from the colony after a few years. Their colonies can be found in areas with high moisture levels, such as rotting wood or near sources of water.

They can also be found near the ground, in rotting tree stumps or logs, and in other similar areas!

As I mentioned earlier, they need a high level of moisture in order to survive and will die if they lose contact with a water source.

Dampwood termites are one of the most common types of termites in the United States. They are strong fliers and often disperse in spring and summer. However, they also take flight in fall and winter, usually at night.

They can cause extensive damage to homes, buildings, and other wooden structures if left unchecked. The distinctive factor about dampwood termites, oddly, is their feces.

This type of termite leaves behind feces that have no shape, and this is primarily because of the amount of moisture in their bodies!

In fact, their feces are one of the main ways that even pest control professionals conclude that it is, in fact, a dampwood termite infestation!

Drywood termites

Wood damage caused by drywood termites.

Drywood termites are a type of termite that does not need to be in contact with moisture to survive.

They get their water internally and supplement their dietary needs by extracting moisture from the wood they live in or feed on. Unlike dampwood termites, drywood termites are more common in drier climates.

Drywood termites are a particular type of termite that live in colonies that typically don’t exceed 10,000. They take a long time to grow, and their young ones build the nest while soldiers protect it.

Swarmers are only about 1/3 the size of regular termites, and they’re responsible for reproducing new colonies.

Now, these termites are not strong fliers, so they often fall prey to predators. They are found in the southern and western parts of the United States, as well as Central America and South America.

Drywood termite species are also similar to subterranean termites in the sense that they consume anything containing cellulose. This includes both hard and soft kinds of wood, so they can be very destructive to homes and other structures made of wood.

Conehead termites

Conehead termites are a type of termite that has a distinct brown or black head shape. They are found in tropical and subtropical regions and can cause significant damage to homes and other structures.

In addition, conehead termites have three different types of soldiers. The small soldiers have six hairs on their heads, while the larger soldiers have no hair.

The winged reproductive adults, known as alates, reach 0.6-0.7 inches long, and they have dark brown wings with two large veins running along with them.

Conehead termites build their nests in the soil, and from there, they send out tunnels to find food. Their tunnel systems can get very complicated and can span several feet from the nest.

Conehead termites also build trenches with soil and feces to camouflage their location. They also protect their tunnels by building mud tubes that connect the nest to the food source.


Regardless of the types of termites invading your home, you should be on guard. A termite infestation, once it begins to grow, can be extremely difficult to get rid of.

Further, the cost of fixing the damage these termite infestations cause to your home can be extremely overwhelming!

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.