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Termites: the complete guide

Termites cost homeowners nearly $5 billion in damages annually, making them one of the most expensive pest problems that can plague your home. Unfortunately, termites are known as “silent destroyers.” They are so tiny that homeowners rarely find out they have a problem until it's too late.

With the proper knowledge, you could save yourself a major headache. That's why education about termites is critical.

Contact your local termite control expert

What do termites look like?

Do I have termites?

To the untrained eye, termites are hard to see. Most termite species look almost identical, making it hard to tell what type of termite is afflicting you. Termites also form colonies, so you may find other members of the termite caste in the same area. If you have a termite infestation, it is common to find winged termites, also referred to as termite swarmers, during the spring months.

Termites are often mistaken for other pests. They are similar to carpenter ants because of their affinity for wood structures, and termites with wings are often mistaken for moths and flying ants. Knowing what you are seeing is the first step in figuring out if you have a termite problem.

A group of termites in the ground

What you need to know about termites


  • Colony

    Every termite colony has three castes, and each caste has its own individual role. Each colony has workers to gather the wood, soldiers to build the shelter, and reproductives — the kings and queens that reproduce. Colonies can be built in the soil below ground (subterranean and Formosan) or inside the wood (drywood).


  • Lifecycle

    Termites go through a metamorphosis including egg, nymph, and adult. Once a termite becomes an adult it is classified into one of the three caste systems: worker, soldier, or reproductive. Depending on the species, some queens can lay up to 30,000 eggs per day.


  • Diet

    Cellulose is a termite’s primary food source. This organic fiber found in wood and grass plants has all the nutrients that termites need to survive. Termites will break down the wood into tiny parts to make it easier for them to chew and digest. Many termites feed on wood that has partly decayed.

What to do if you have termites

The most effective type of termite treatment depends on the property location, type of property, termite species, and the infestation severity. Western Exterminator termite inspectors assess each infestation prior to recommending a treatment custom to your needs.

You may be tempted to try a DIY termite removal method, but the most guaranteed solution is to call in a professional pest control company like Western Exterminator. At Western, we recommend only proven termite control methods that will most effectively eliminate your termite infestation.

Frequently asked questions


  • What are the first signs of termites?

    Termite swarmers are usually the first sign of a termite infestation. Swarmers are winged termites that fly in large groups.

    Learn more:

    10 signs of a termite infestation


  • How do you kill termites?

    The best way to get rid of termites is to work with a professional pest control company like Western. Termites are very difficult to see to the untrained eye, and it is hard to tell the difference between termite species. Knowing which type of termite you are dealing with is crucial to picking the best control method to completely eliminate this tiny pest. Our licensed Technicians are certified in termite removal and are very knowledgeable about which treatment methods work best for each termite.

    Learn more:

    How often do you treat your home for termites?

    Commercial termite treatments for drywood termites


  • What attracts termites in the house?

    Moisture and wood. High moisture areas in your home, such as pipes that are leaking or drains that are clogged and not draining properly, make for the perfect conditions for termites to thrive. Mulch is also a huge termite attractant.

    Learn more:

    What homeowners should know about termites

    Does rain mean more termites?


  • Are termites harmful to humans?

    Though termites are not directly harmful to humans, having termites on your property can cause severe stress to humans and damage to your property.

    Learn more:

    Do termites bite?

    How termite damage could cost you thousands

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