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What Do Termites Look Like?

Subterranean Termites in the Soil

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Subterranean termites usually nest in, or in contact with, the soil.

Subterranean termites usually nest in, or in contact with, the soil.

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources - Forestry Archive, Bugwood.org

Most termite damage is caused by subterranean termites, members of the family Rhinotermitidae. Subterranean termite nests usually contact the soil, thus the name subterranean (meaning underground, or beneath the soil surface). Among these ground-dwelling termites, the most common structural pests are the eastern, western, and Formosan subterranean termites.

Other termites that cause structural damage include the drywood termites (family Kalotermitidae) and the dampwood termites (family Termopsidae).

If you suspect you have a termite problem, your first step is to confirm that the pests are, indeed, termites. Some people mistake termites for ants.

On the next page, you'll see a close-up of eastern subterranean termites and learn how to recognize termites.

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