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Eastern Subterranean Termite


Actual Size: 10 mm

Characteristics: Brownish-black to black body, translucent milky wings.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: Yes

Habitat: Builds mud tubes connecting soil to wood, which they feed on. Needs ample moisture to survive.


  • Primarily live underground, building mud tubes to access wood that they can consume.
  • Feeds on cellulose, which is a key structure in wood and other plant matter.
  • Are one of the most destructive pests in the U.S., causing billions of dollars in damage each year.

Eastern Subterranean Termite

Eastern Subterranean Termites in Atlanta, GA

Subterranean termites are pale, soft-bodied insects measuring about 1/8 to 1 inch in length, with a creamy-white to translucent appearance. They have straight antennae and are distinguishable by their six legs and segmented bodies. These termites live in underground colonies consisting of workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals. They’re known for their destructive feeding habits, primarily targeting cellulose-based materials like wood, paper, and plant-based debris. Subterranean termites construct mud tubes to travel between their nests and food sources, providing protection from predators and preserving moisture.

Eastern Subterranean Termite Habitat

Subterranean termites typically establish their colonies underground in moist soil to maintain the necessary humidity levels for survival. Their colonies consist of different castes, each with specific roles. Workers, the most numerous caste, are responsible for foraging, feeding the colony, and constructing tunnels and galleries. Soldiers, equipped with large mandibles or jaws, defend the colony against threats like ants or other predators. The reproductive caste includes the king and queen, responsible for reproducing and expanding the colony. Termite colonies often have a centralized nest, but they can also have satellite nests connected by an extensive network of tunnels.

Eastern Subterranean Termite Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Though termites don’t pose a threat to human health, they are still an extremely destructive pest that can cause major problems for home and business owners. Termites’ foraging behaviors and insatiable appetite for cellulose-rich materials pose a severe threat to wooden structures, causing substantial damage and compromising the structural integrity of buildings or homes. These insects thrive in damp environments, making moisture-prone areas particularly susceptible to infestations. The gradual and hidden nature of their activities often leads to extensive damage before being noticed, emphasizing the importance of regular inspections and preventative measures to safeguard against termite infestations. Always contact your local termite exterminators for help with eastern subterranean termite problems.