Subterranean Termite


Actual Size: 10 mm

Characteristics: Brownish-black to black body, translucent milky wings.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: Alates/swarmers have wings.

Habitat: Requires moist soil to survive. Typically lives inside of mud tubes built by the colony.


  • Considered to be the most destructive termites in the United States.
  • Lives underground, building mud tubes and consuming wood that comes into contact with soil.
  • Cause of over $5 billion in damages to homes annually.

Subterranean Termites in the Pacific Northwest

Subterranean termites are extremely common throughout the United States and are known to cause over $5 billion in damages to homes each year. Like all other species of termites, subterranean termites consume a substance found in wood called cellulose. Though these termites build their colonies in moist soil, they can eat through any wooden material in a home, which can weaken structures and pose a safety risk. Additionally, these termites can also damage non-wood materials in search of food. Since subterranean termites rarely show themselves in the open, it can be difficult to identify an infestation until the destruction becomes severe.

Subterranean Termite Habitat

Subterranean termites require the moisture found in soil to survive, so they typically live underground. The colonies will build “mud tubes” so they can travel around while still hiding from predators and locking moisture in. These tubes are the easiest way to spot an outbreak of subterranean termites, as the tubes are usually found in or outside of an infested home. Winged termites may also swarm near doors and windows because they are attracted to light. These winged termites will eventually become the king or queen of a new colony, which allows these termites to spread very quickly.

Subterranean Termite Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Though subterranean termites are not aggressive and typically hide from humans, they do not pose a major health risk. However, they feed on wood materials, which can make homes a potential food source. Over time, these termites can weaken structures and cause costly damages. If you see the signs of a subterranean termite infestation on or around your property, it is important to call a professional termite exterminator to remove these pests quickly and efficiently.