How do you identify termites?

Termites can be difficult to identify because these pests usually aren’t seen out in the open. Only when winged-reproductives, known as “alates,” swarm to choose their mates are these termites highly visible. Often mistaken for carpenter ants, termites have several characteristics that distinguish them from ants.

  • Termites have heads and thoraxes, while carpenter ants have heads, thoraxes, and an abdomen.
  • Carpenter ants have a distinct waist, whereas termites are more rectangular in their shape with no well-defined waist.
  • Termites have straight, beaded antennae but carpenter ants’ antennae are bent or “elbowed.”
  • Termites have two sets of symmetrical wings that are much longer than their bodies, while carpenter ants have a long pair of forewings and a shorter pair of hindwings.

Additionally, identifying termites in your home will take some careful observation skills. Keep an eye out for termite droppings, or frass - if you notice what looks like small piles of sawdust in your home, this is a definite sign of infestation. Wood that sounds hollow when you tap it, sagging floors, and small wings on windowsills are also signs of a termite infestation you may notice around your home. On the outside of your home, you may spot mud tubes on the walls. These usually look like they’re made of clay and dark brown.

If you spot anything that resembles a termite or a possible termite infestation, we urge you to contact an experienced professional as termite damage can become very extensive, very fast. Pestwise is available for free termite inspections.

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