Known as the “silent destroyer” of homes, termites are destructive pests that can easily decimate a property or home. Considered to be social insects, each colony consists of a nest with thousands of individuals measuring between 0.16 to 0.59 inches. Since these pests feed on mostly cellulose-based plant material, they are attracted to homes through the wood that they come into contact with.
As termite season generally occurs in hotter and more humid areas, Southern states are hit with termites more frequently. With numerous termite species inhabiting and affecting the Texas region, there are 3 more common types of termites that you should be aware of:
- The Desert Dampwood Termite
- The Western Drywood Termite
- The Subterranean Termite
In this article, we provide in-depth information about each common species of termites in Texas and answer questions such as: What do termites look like? When is termite season? And more.
Desert Dampwood Termite
The Desert Dampwood termite, scientifically known as the Paraneotermes simplicicornis, is a species that prefers semi-arid and arid southwest regions and emits a strong distinctive odor. Larger than both the drywood and subterranean species, these termites can get up to almost an inch long. As swarm season is during the day from May until September, it is important to know that this species of swarmers can be identified through their dark brown bodies and wings. Additionally, their soldiers have a brown or yellowish color with an antenna on either side of their heads. However, nymphs can be identified through their cream color and spotted abdomens.
Unlike subterranean termites, dampwood termites don’t usually have contact with the soil, thus do not create mud tubes/tunnels. Instead, they are commonly found in dampened wooden areas that are kept damp through water leaks or excessive moisture from standing water.
What do Desert Dampwood Termites Eat?
Desert Dampwood termites are insects that only infest and eat wood and timber that contain a high water content, generally found buried under the ground. Their most common food sources are tree roots, door frames, and fence posts. What’s more, they can also cause damage to living trees by girdling and feeding on the roots and wood below the ground surface.
Western Drywood Termite
The Western Drywood termite, scientifically known as the Incisitermes minor, is the most common drywood species affecting the Southwestern United States. As swarms are instigated during warm temperatures and heavy rains, drywood termites in Texas are quite frequent due to the abundance of humidity in the air.
Furthermore, this species does not build mud shelters, do not live in the ground, and prefer to have their colonies in low-moisture, non-decayed wood. Unfortunately, they are frequently found inside a home’s interior wood framing, usually affecting older homes.
Colonies consist of a generally small infestation of 3,000 individuals, including: the reproductive, soldier, and pseudergate (or laboring) classes. The reproductive termites of this species can be identified by their ½-inch long dark brown body and smoky-black wings. Their soldier class can be easily distinguished by their large, brown-colored head and two large mouthparts that extend well beyond their head. However, the drywood termites do not have a reproductively sterile termite in their colonies, resulting in the lack of a “true worker” class. Instead, they have “pseudergates” that work, and have the capability of eventually molting into a soldier.
What do Western Drywood Termites Eat?
The Western Drywood termites like to feed on undecayed wood that have a low-moisture content. As they do not have contact with the soil, they are often found outside of their geographical areas by frequently being carried by infested furniture or other wooden objects and feeding on it. You can determine if you have a drywood termite infestation based on their eating pattern, which goes across the grain, not with the wood.
The Subterranean termite, scientifically known as the Reticulitermes spp., Coptotermes spp., or Heterotermes spp., is among one of the most common species of Texas termites. A huge pest problem, the subterranean termites has one the largest insect nests in America, growing as many as 2 million individuals when they swarm in the spring. Their habitat of choice is underground in the soil but can also be found in moist secluded areas above ground.
The swarmer class can be identified by their dark-brown to black color, and approximately ¼ to ½ inch long pairs of wings. Their worker class is cream in color and about ¼ inch in size or less. Soldier termites are easily distinguished through their large mandibles, creamy-white color, and brownish colored heads.
What do Subterranean Termites Eat?
Subterranean termites use their scissor-like jaws to eat wood 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Furthermore, they will feed on any type of wood and or cellulose-containing materials. As these insects only feed on the softwood portion of wood and leave the hardwood behind, damaged wood from this species can be identified by the appearance of layers, and the honeycomb pattern left behind. Additionally, subterranean termites feed “with the grain” rather than across the grain
Destructively feasting on cellulose-based plant material, termites are pests that you will want to rid your property of immediately. Making sure to be aware of the most common termites Texas has will help to ensure your property or home is safe from harm.