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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: Live in mud tubes built by the colony. Need contact with moist soil to survive.


  • Considered the most damaging termite species in the nation.
  • Termites live underground, consuming wood that contacts the soil.
  • Subterranean termites cause over $5 billion in damage to homes annually.

Subterranean Termites in Salina

Subterranean termites are the most widespread and destructive termite species in Salina, and indeed, throughout the United States. Subterranean termites consume cellulose, the main structure of plant cells, which makes any wood material in a home a potential food source. Subterranean termites may also damage non-wood material in search of food. Termites rarely show themselves in the open and often remain hidden deep inside the structure. Therefore, infestations can be difficult to detect until the damage becomes severe.

Subterranean Termite Habitat

In nature, subterranean termites live underground and feed on plant materials. These termites build tunnels, often referred to as “mud tubes,” to protect them from predators and exposed air which can dry them out. In the spring, winged termite swarmers will appear near doors and windows. After fluttering about for a short time, the termites break off their wings and pair off, becoming king and queen of a new termite colony.

Subterranean Termite Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Termites are reclusive, and when termite damage becomes evident, it is usually after the infestation has been going on for years.  If you see swarming termites or their wings, it’s a good sign that termites are working in a building. Winged termites are often confused with winged ants, but there’s an important difference. Winged ants eat wood to construct their nests; termites eat wood because it’s their diet. Because termites consume cellulose, any wood material in a house is a potential food source.  To prevent or control a subterranean termite infestation, it’s important to enlist the help of a professional termite exterminator.

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