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What Do Termites Look Like?

Eastern Subterranean Termite Soldier

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Eastern subterranean termite soldiers have rectangular heads and powerful jaws.

Eastern subterranean termite soldiers have rectangular heads and powerful jaws.

USDA Agricultural Research Service

Termites share certain physical traits that will help you distinguish them from ants or other pests. They lack a pronounced "waist." Termites have straight antennae that look like strings of tiny beads. Their hind ends are rounded. Only the reproductives have functional eyes; workers and soldiers are blind and lack eyes.

The termites pictured here are soldiers of the native eastern subterranean termites. Notice their rectangular-shaped heads, which can help you distinguish this species from other termites. Eastern subterranean termite soldiers also have powerful mandibles (the brown jaws protruding from their heads) with which they defend their colony.

On the next page, you'll find a close-up of another common subterranean termite, the Formosan.

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