Tips For Termite Identification

Termites can cause some serious harm to your house, but termite identification can be tricky. Termites often resemble other insects, especially ants, and might not be visible at all. Learning how to distinguish termites from other insects and being able to recognize the signs of a termite infestation may end up saving you a lot of time and money.

There are over 4000 types of termites in the earth and about 10% of those are considering pest to humans. Termites are Eusocial insects, meaning that they live in hierarchical societies that are de-centralized and self-organized. They run off of swarm intelligence, meaning no central figure rules them; each individual insect makes its own decision to act accordingly for the colony.  Termites live in colonies that may be several million termites strong and divide labor among workers, soldiers, queens, and kings.


Kings and queens are only responsible for reproducing, while workers and soldiers collect food, care for the young and protect the nest. Termites eat dead plant material, which is a forest environment is an ecologically important way of recycling wood material, but it can also mean termites can eat your home.  They are able to consume and digest wood with the help of bacteria inside of their gut.

To help protect their colonies, termites build nests or mounds. They then consume wood material all around to feed their growing colony. There are two types of termites that feed on wood products inside of human homes, subterranean and dry wood-feeding termites. Termites inside of your home will build nests and create tunnels to protect them as they move around looking for food. Termite identification is a blend of looking for insects and checking your home for evidence of their nests or food sources.

There are a number of differences between termites and ants. Often you will see ants inside of your home, usually in a line towards a food source or individually. You will probably not see a termite in your home.

termite nest

Termites may be seen if a hole develops where you can see into the wall, or flying termites may be seen going in or out of parts of the house. Flying termites represent your best chance for identifying them as termites. Termites are generally white, although flying termites may be darker in color, and have six legs, straight antenna, and an equally proportioned waist. Flying ants and flying termites appear similar, but termites have equal-sized wings and ants do not. Ants also have bent antennae and thin waists. Flying termites will often be spotted coming out of support beams or foundations of your house. You do see flying termites coming out of these places, it means you have got a problem.

Another way to detecting a termite infestation is to check the underparts of the house, like the foundation or support beams, for termite tunnels. These look like mud tubes about the thickness of a pen and are what termites use as protection when they move about. Break open a tube and you may even see little white termites. They create many tubes and use different tubes at different times. Tubes are a clear sign of a termite problem. You may also see damaged wood. Hollowed out wood is a sign of termites and you can identify that the damage is from termites and not other wood-destroying critters by checking for soil or mud deposits? Only termites leave small, sand-like grains of soil or mud where they eat.

termite mounds

Chewed sections of wood will also have soil around the edges and walls with burrowing termites behind them may begin to have a sunken or warped appearance.

Termite infestations may go on for years before they are discovered and the damage they can cause can be massive. Termite identification can be difficult even for professionals, so for best results have a Termite Control Melbourne professional check your home for termites every few years. If you do find signs of a termite infestation, get working on treatments and controls immediately to avoid further damage.

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