In the United States, there are over 40 types of termites. These species all fall under one of the main three termite types. The three types of termites include the subterranean termite, the dampwood termite and drywood termite.
While all under the termite umbrella these species have as much in common as they have had to separate them.
One thing these three types all have in common is that in any colony of termites each member serves an individual purpose. The four members of a colony include nymphs, soldiers, workers and reproductives.
- Nymphs are the baby termites that haven’t yet been assigned a role and haven’t reached their full size.
- Soldiers are tasked with protecting the colony. Typically soldier termites make up less than 3% of their colony population. The soldiers have enlarged, darkened heads and enlarged jaws to help them fight off potential dangers.
- Workers are the backbone of the intrusion and make up the majority of it. It is their duty to build, manage and repair the colony when needed. They also help care for the young (nymphs) and the are responsible for foraging the food.
- Reproductives are winged and responsible for the reproduction process. Also known as swarmers, these alates have a darker body and long wings. After they leave their colony to mate, they start a new colony often in the role of king or queen.
Now, let's talk more about the differences between these groups.
Considered the most destructive species, subterranean termites are always eating. Compared to saws, their teeth work non-stop to chew wood. One bite at a time they can eat away and collapse entire buildings over time.
Subterranean termites make nests larger than any other insect found in America. They live in the soil with as many as two million other termites to keep them company. The nests that are connected using mud tubes, which work as a highway for the colony to come in and out of the nest. The mud tubs are mud and timber made tunnels built to protect termites from the outside world while traveling to and from their food sources.
Subterranean termites swarm in the spring to reproduce and build new colonies.
Finding their home in wood containing a high moisture content, dampwood termites aren’t typically the termites you might find in your home. Because they require a habit with a high moisture content, man-made buildings aren’t usually habitable for them. In fact, you’re more likely to find a dampwood termite in a piece of rotting wood than your home.
Unlike subterranean termites, they don’t usually come into contact with the soil and they don’t make the mud tube tunnels.
Dampwood termites are prevalent in the Pacific area and Florida.
Similar to dampwood termites, Drywood termites live in the wood instead of soil. However, Drywood termites prefer nondecayed wood to build their communities. Drywood termites can obtain all the moisture they need from the wood they eat. Drywood colonies are smaller than subterranean termites so while they can create structural damage a colony of drywood termites would take longer to do so in comparison.
When the drywood finds a location to build the colony a male and female termite burrow into the wood, that site is plugged up by a mud like substance.
Drywood termites also have a different approach to the roles you typically find in colonies. While workers exist, there are no strictly worker termites roles to fill. Nymphs fill these roles based on what they grow up to.
No matter the species, termites can be a destructive pest! If you believe you have an infestation or have noticed signs of termites, contact Dustin Pest Control.