What do subterranean termites look like?

Subterranean termite colonies have three specialized kinds of individuals who each look slightly different from one another.  The workers look like a creepy otherworldly invader from an alien movie.  They are creamy white and shiny, and if you look closely, you can see their intestines.  Very strange.  They are about 1/8-1/4” long.  They are rarely spotted outside of the mud tubes they build.  These are the real destructive members of the colony, who eat the wood and build the mud tubes for the rest of the colony members to move around in.  

Other members of the colony are the soldiers.  These guys are about the same size as the workers, but they are orange with large mandibles on the front of their heads.  These are the termites that would be seen if there were a breach in one of the mud tubes.  They protect the colony against invaders, but like the workers, do not venture out of the colony willingly.  

Finally, there are the reproductives in the termite colony.  They are the most often noticed termites, seen outside the colony during the swarm season, when they emerge to look for mates to start new colonies.  They are the largest of the colony, growing up to 1/2” long.  They resemble flying ants, are brown/black in color and have two pairs of wings that break off after the swarm.  In New Jersey, the swarm is typically sometime between February and June.  

Are There Termites in New Jersey?

Yes.  Termites are one of the most destructive pests worldwide, and New Jersey is no exception to their range.  The most common type of termite found in New Jersey is the Eastern Subterranean Termite, attacking an estimated one in five homes throughout the life of the building.  


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