What do termites look like?

What do termites look like, do you really know?  More often than not the answer is “I know what termites look like I’ve seen them before”.  The truth is that most people are wrong and that’s ok.  There are pest control companies all over the world that would be happy to make the ID for you.  I’m going to save them the trouble and do it here.

Is it really a termite?

Believe it or not the most common pest in Connecticut that people identify as a termite is actually a carpenter ant.

carpenter ant
Live carpenter ant colony

As you read on you’ll see that not only do termites and carpenter ants look nothing alike, their biology is also very different as well.  The one item they share is “winged reproductives”, but even these look nothing alike.

For brevity carpenter ants have 3 body sections a head, abdomen ,thorax and are black.  Termites also have 3 body sections, but appear to have only two as the abdomen and thorax combine with one another

As for the reproductives.  The easiest ID can be made by the wings.

Termite swarm
These are reproductive termites from a home in CT

The eastern subterranean termite”swarmmers” have 4 wings all of equal length while carpenter ants have 4 wings as well, but two are long and two are short.

What do termites look like in the ground?

When you see termites in the soil, which is their natural environment they appear milky white.

Eastern subterranean termites

The picture to the left was taken at a termite treatment in Connecticut that was being done by Envirocare Pest Control in the summer of  2021.  As you can clearly see termites and carpenter ants look nothing alike.  As for size the individual termite is roughly the same size as a grain of rice.

What kind of termite do you have?

This is where things get tricky IF you live in the south or out west.  The reason is that there are different types of termites in those sections of the country. Also, the inspections and treatments are very different. Having the correct ID is the difference between treatment success or failure.  It would be in your best interest to contact a qualified exterminator in your state.

Luckily, Envirocare Pest Control is in Connecticut and when we’re asked what do termites look like it’s relatively clear cut.