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Identifying Termites in Virginia


While there are over 2,000 species of termites, we luckily only have to worry about two: the eastern subterranean termite and the formosan termite. Both of these pests can cause massive amounts of damage to your home, especially if you don’t know what to look for.

Types of Termites in Virginia

As mentioned above there are only 2 types of termites in Virginia that we have to worry about.  Below you’ll find a break down of each type and how to identify them.

Eastern Subterranean Termite

Found in every state except for Alaska, this species lives in underground colonies that can number up to two million members. They require high levels of humidity to survive and build mud tubes that allow them to sneakily search for food without being exposed to the open air. 

What Do Eastern Subterranean Termites Look Like?

Subterranean termites are quite small, usually about half the size of the head of a match. They can be any color from white to dark brown. Unlike other species, they do not have wings, except for the swarmers. They also have a soft body that allows them to wiggle through openings as small as 1/8 of an inch. Due to their secluded, underground lifestyles, subterranean termites are also blind.

How to Identify Eastern Subterranean Termites

The biggest indicator that you’re dealing with subterranean termites is their mud tubes. These distinctive tubes can crawl up your foundation, window trim, wall studs, and siding, leading the termites straight to the timber inside your home. They eat the softer sections of wood, creating a thin shell around a honeycomb of layered hollow sections. Subterranean swarmers also have their wings break off, leaving behind piles of discarded wings.

Formosan Termites

A type of subterranean termite, formosan termites are originally from China and are considered the most aggressive species, responsible for the most damage. They’ve even earned the nickname of “super termites.” Their colonies can expand with the help of underground tunnels until they’re covering up to 300 feet of soil.

What Do Formosan Termites Look Like?

Their teardrop-shaped heads make formosan termites stand out from other species. Attached to their heads are antennae which help them find food sources. They range in color from creamy white to brown and are approximately 1/2 in length.

How to Identify Formosan Termites

Formosan termites are very similar to other subterranean termites, making it difficult to distinguish between the two. The warning signs are the same as eastern subterranean termites—mud tubes and discarded wings. The best way to accurately determine what species you’re dealing with is by calling the professionals.

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Why Do Termites Swarm?

Termites swarm after their current colony has reached capacity and is ready to expand. In most cases, this happens once a year. Hundreds, or in some cases thousands, or swarmers are born with the sole purpose of reproducing and creating new offshoots of the original colony. Once conditions are right, the swarmers take flight and pair off. Once paired, the termites lose their wings, mate, and find a suitable place to start a nest.

When Do Termites Swarm?

Swarming times varies by termite species, however most subterranean groups take flight during the daytime in the spring. They typically wait until a day after a rain shower and the sky is cloudy and overcast. The damp soil from the rain helps the termite pairs build their nests while the humidity boosts their survival rates.

What Does a Termite Swarm Look Like?

Termite swarmers often get mistaken for flying ants, so it’s important to know the distinction between the two in order to prevent a costly infestation. This is also the time that you’re most likely to see termites and be alerted of their presence. Some differences to look out for include:

  • Antennae: Termites have straight antennae while ants have bent antennae.
  • Wings: Termites have wings of equal size and flying ants have slightly larger front wings.
  • Body: Termites are straight and broad as opposed to ants which have pinched waists.

Discarded wings are also common during a termite swarm, which lasts between 30-40 minutes. The swarmers only have temporary wings that help them travel away from their colony, so they eventually fall off. If termites are entering your home, piles of discarded wings can be found near entry points such as a door or window sill.

Termite Treatments in Hampton Roads Area:

We offer termite services in the following areas: