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What Does a Termite Look Like?

Many people don’t realize when they come across a termite because of how similar these pests look to ants. And, with over 40 species in the United States alone, it can be challenging to tell exactly what a termite looks like. Here, we’ll share our tips for identifying whether you have termites, ants, or something else.

Regardless of their species or caste, most termites share these common characteristics:

  • Small bodies, usually between ¼ and ½” in length
  • Thick bodies with a head, thorax, and abdomen
  • Six legs and stick-straight antennae
  • May have wings and can vary in color
what does a termite look like in Long Island |  Arrow Exterminating

What Are Termite Castes?

Inside of a termite colony, each insect has a unique role – also called their ‘caste’. The caste reflects what the termite’s responsibility is to the colony, and it can influence how the insect looks. Here’s how you can identify the three most common termite castes:

  • Swarmers: These are reproductive termites that will branch off from their original colony in a ‘swarm’ to find a mate and establish a new colony. Swarmers look very similar to winged ants and are often dark in color, but their appearance can vary.
  • Soldiers: These termites are responsible for protecting the colony from intruders. They also work to repair any broken walls or tunnels in their nest. Soldier termites look the most similar to ants with large, dark heads and powerful jaws. 
  • Workers: Most termites in a colony are workers, who spend their time looking for food and building the nest’s tunnel network. Worker termites have a distinctive appearance characterized by an off-white or creamy appearance and wingless body.

Do I Have Ants or Termites?

Ants and termites look extremely similar, so it can be very difficult to tell what type of an infestation you have. If you come across an insect that you think could be a termite, look for these specific characteristics:

  • Termites have straight antennae, while ants have antennae that curve or bend. 
  • Termites have thicker bodies that do not get thinner in the middle, where ants often have a very narrow waistline. 
  • Winged termites have wings that are equal in length, but winged ants have longer front wings than rear wings.

Fastest Way to Tell If You Have Termites

At the end of the day, the fastest way to tell if you have termites is to get an inspection from an expert. Even if you spend time looking for signs of a termite infestation, like piles of frass or mud tubes, it can be very challenging to spot a colony without the right tools and expertise. These pests usually stay deep inside of our walls, which makes it hard to tell if you have termites until there’s severe damage. 

Whether you think you have termites on your property or you just want peace of mind against wood-destroying insects, you can count on the termite control experts at Arrow Exterminating! We’ve served Long Island since 1947 using industry-leading techniques to offer your property long-term protection. Our team is also backed by global leaders in the pest control business, so you can trust us to spot even the earliest signs of a termite infestation. Just give us a call to get started!

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