The workers are the largest caste in the colony at about 1/8” long. The soldiers are the defenders of the colony. Also around 1/8”, they have an orangish rectangular head with mandibulate pinchers. They are creamy tan
The western subterranean termite is native to America. Out of the three major subterranean termites species in the United States, this is the least aggressive. However, they can have multiple colonies per property and continue to cause millions of dollars in damage to the Bay Area each year.
These colonies can contain as many as 300,000 individuals with multiple queens. Secondary colonies can be found inside homes if there is a constant source of moisture.
As with most social insects there is a caste system. It consists of a queen, king, winged reproductive (young queens and kings), soldiers and the workers. Each playing a vital role to the colony.
Queens are the largest members of the colony. They can be found in a chamber deep in the soil or in walls next to a constant moisture source. Each queen can live up to 25 years and produce more than 2,000 eggs a day. It takes over five months for termites to go from eggs to adults.
The workers are in charge of gathering food (wood and other cellulose), grooming each other, building and repairing tunnels. They also feed and care for the queen, the king, all soldiers and nymphs (young).
All workers in the colony are sterile females, blind and work almost constantly throughout their two to five year lifespan.
If a shelter tube or the wood they are in is opened up, soldiers immediately rush to the breach. They will put their large heads just outside the open area to defend the workers while they repair the breach.
The swarmers (reproductives) are young kings and queens. They are dark brown with transparent wings with veins running down the length. Swarmers are about 3/8 inch long with their wings.
Swarmers are only produced by well established colonies (it takes three to four years to reach this point.)
Following a rain during warm, sunny days swarmers will emerge in large numbers from their shelter tubes. This will generally take place in the fall, winter and early spring. Since the swarmers are poor fliers they will fly off the tubes or find a high point to crawl from. Subterranean termites can swarm several times during this period. Large numbers of swarmers are sent out because most will die from the obstacles they face. They will have to elude from predators like birds, other insects, spiders, and their most aggressive enemy, ants.
The biggest misconception is that if you have ants, then you do not have termites. The war between ants and termites has been raging for over 250 million years. Another misconception is if a property has both pests, that the ants will take care of the termites; this is however not the case.
Shortly after flight each swarmer will drop their wings and search for a mate. Finding termite wings in/or next to the home is one way home owners realize that a colony is in or close to the home. There may be a few dozen or a few hundred wings present.
Subterranean termites travel and eat inside of shelter tubes. Since workers are blind they rely on these tubes for protection. Tubes can be built through a space as small as a 1/16 inch crack and are how most homeowners discover they have termites.
Every tube is made up of tiny pieces of mud and fecal material packed together. The workers are constantly searching for new food sources and can and build tubes almost anywhere, but they require moisture to create the tubes, so they will usually extract water up from the ground. As the colony extends into a home they will try to create tubes going back to ground to transfer food and get water.
Since they require moisture, subterranean termite colonies will also seek out leaks within a home. If the water source is constant a secondary colony can exist above ground.
Subterranean termites are controlled by a chemical treatment to the soil. A termite inspection is required to determine the extent of the infestation and/or damage caused before treatment.
Burge Pest Control only uses TERMIDOR to control subterranean termites. Also, there is a three year guarantee on termite treatments. We do not perform any repairs.