Termites: Overview, Classification, Harmful Effects, and Extermination Techniques

There are over 2,800 known termite species in the world. These species are classified into different families and genera, each with their own unique characteristics and behaviors. Termites are found on every continent except Antarctica, and they play important roles in ecosystems as decomposers, although some species are known for causing damage to wooden structures.
Welcome to our in-depth guide on termites, one of the most destructive pests that can wreak havoc on your property. As a leading pest control expert, we are here to provide you with valuable insights into the identification, behavior, and effective control methods for various termite species, including the most common ones found in the USA. Let’s delve into the world of termites and equip you with the knowledge to protect your home.


Discover Different Termite Species

There are numerous ant species. Below are critical facts about each of the mentioned species. The genus names are given where applicable, but note that some of these names may apply to several species within a genus.

Subterranean termites (Family: Rhinotermitidae)

Subterranean termites are a common type of termite found in many parts of the world, including the United States. Their scientific name is Coptotermes spp. They are known for building underground colonies and constructing mud tubes to access above-ground food sources. Subterranean termites primarily feed on wood and can cause significant damage to structures if left untreated.

Formosan termites (Coptotermes formosanus)

Formosan termites are a particularly destructive species of subterranean termites. They are native to East Asia but have spread to other parts of the world, including the southern United States. Formosan termites are highly aggressive and can cause rapid and extensive damage to wooden structures. Their colonies can be massive, containing millions of individuals.

Dampwood termites (Family: Termopsidae)

Dampwood termites belong to the family Termopsidae, and their scientific name is Zootermopsis spp. They are typically found in areas with high moisture content, such as decaying wood, logs, and tree stumps. Dampwood termites require a constant source of moisture for survival and are less commonly encountered in urban environments compared to other termite species.

Drywood termites (Family: Kalotermitidae)

Drywood termites belong to the family Kalotermitidae, and their scientific name is Cryptotermes spp. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not require soil contact and can infest dry wood found in structures. They are known for creating intricate tunnel systems within the wood and can cause significant damage over time.

Conehead termites (Nasutitermes spp.)

Conehead termites are a group of termite species within the genus Nasutitermes. They are native to the Caribbean but have been introduced to certain parts of Florida in the United States. Conehead termites are named for the distinctive shape of their soldier’s head, which resembles a cone. They are known for their aggressive foraging behavior and ability to build above-ground nests, making them a unique threat in areas where they are established.

Harmful Effects of Termites

Termites are notorious for their harmful effects, particularly when they infest buildings and wooden structures. Here are some of the detrimental impacts of termites:

  1. Structural Damage: Termites feed on cellulose material, such as wood, and can cause extensive damage to the structural integrity of buildings. They hollow out wooden components, weakening them and potentially leading to collapses or costly repairs.
  2. Property Damage: Besides affecting the structural stability, termites can damage furniture, cabinets, flooring, books, and other cellulose-based items. They can leave behind a trail of destruction, causing financial losses and requiring extensive replacements or restoration.
  3. Financial Burden: Termite infestations can result in significant financial burdens for homeowners and businesses. The costs associated with repairs, treatments, and preventative measures can be substantial, and insurance may not cover termite-related damages.
  4. Compromised Safety: In severe infestations, termites can compromise the safety of buildings and their occupants. Weakened structures may pose risks of collapse or hazards, endangering the well-being of residents or workers.
  5. Decreased Property Value: The presence of termites can significantly reduce the value of properties. When selling or renting a building with a history of termite infestation, potential buyers or tenants may be deterred or demand lower prices, affecting the overall property market value.

Facts About Termites

  1. Social Structure: Termites live in highly organized colonies with specialized roles. They have a caste system that includes workers, soldiers, and reproductive individuals. The queen termite is the central figure in the colony, responsible for laying eggs and maintaining the population.
  2. Digestive Abilities: Termites are known for their remarkable ability to digest cellulose, the main component of plant material. They achieve this through a mutualistic relationship with symbiotic microorganisms, such as bacteria and protozoa, living in their gut. These microorganisms break down cellulose, allowing termites to extract nutrients from wood and plant matter.
  3. Construction Skills: Termites are exceptional builders. They construct elaborate tunnel systems, known as galleries, within wood or soil. These tunnels provide protection, regulate temperature and humidity, and connect different parts of the colony. Some termite species even build massive mounds or nests that can reach several meters in height.

 How to Get Rid of Termites

Controlling termite infestations requires a comprehensive approach to eliminate the existing colonies and prevent future infestations. Some common termite control methods include:

  • Soil Treatment: Applying liquid termiticides to the soil around a structure creates a barrier to prevent subterranean termites from accessing the building.
  • Baiting Systems: Installing termite bait stations around the property can attract and eliminate termites. These bait stations contain slow-acting toxic substances that are carried back to the colony and shared among the termites.
  • Wood Treatments: Treating infested wood with appropriate termiticides can kill termites within the wood and protect it from further damage.


If you suspect a termite infestation or want to proactively safeguard your home, don’t hesitate to contact us, your trusted pest control experts.