Western Subterranean Termite

Reticulitermes hesperus


Eastern subterranean termite (Gary Alpert, Harvard University, Bugwood.org)


Eastern subterranean termites (Gary Alpert, Harvard University, Bugwood.org)


Termite mud tubes (USDA FS Wood Products Insect Lab Archive, Bugwood.org)


  • swarmers (winged) 3/8 inch long; dark body and legs
  • winged termites differ from winged ants in that termites have equal-length front and back wings, bead-like antennae and a broad connection between the middle and rear of the body
  • workers 1/4 - 3/8 inch long; pale cream color
  • soldiers similar to workers but have a large head and mouthparts (see comparison in middle image)

Nesting Habits

  • prefer to nest in moist wood in contact with the soil
  • mud tubes are used to cross masonry or other surfaces
  • indoors can be found anywhere wood products and moisture exist


  • feed directly on wood, typically the softer layers (springwood) or on wood byproducts (e.g., drywall, paper-based ceiling tiles)


  • can cause structural damage to wood and wood products

IPM Recommendations

  • Eliminate wood-to-soil contact.
  • Seal cracks and crevices in the foundation.
  • Wood siding, stucco and foam board should be at least 6 inches from the ground.
  • Keep vegetation trimmed and away from the foundation.
  • Repair leaking plumbing and other moisture sources.
  • Reduce humidity in basements, crawlspaces, etc.
  • Use baits in conjunction with moisture-reducing tactics to eliminate colonies.
  • Consider hiring a professional to control termites.

For more information, see our Subterranean Termites fact sheet.