What is a termite?

Termite workers (left) and a termite swarmer (right) are the two termite castes likely to be encountered in a home.

Termite workers (left), a single soldier (upper left with large jaws) and a termite swarmer (right).  Workers and swarmers are the two termite castes most likely to be seen in a home.

Subterranean termites are insects that feed on wood, frequently becoming pests of homes. There are two types of termites commonly encountered by homeowners: the worker and the swarmer. Worker termites are creamy colored, 3-4 mm long, and typically only seen when a mud foraging tube is broken, or infested wood is broken open. Swarmers are the reproductive cast of the termite colony. They are approximately 4 mm long and dark brown or black in color. They may or may not have wings, as the swarmers lose their wings shortly after emergence.

Subterranean termite workers can be found year-round, though swarmers are usually encountered between the months of March through April in Texas. Swarming flights of the most common Texas species, the eastern subterranean termite, usually take place during daylight hours.


The presence of termites indoors generally means professional treatment is needed to prevent damage to the home or structure.

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