Subterranean Termite


Actual Size: 10 mm

Characteristics: They are pale in color, often translucent or creamy white. Soldiers have slightly darker heads, and swarmers (reproductive termites) have dark bodies with wings.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: Alates/swarmers have wings.

Habitat: They build their nests in the soil near or beneath structures they plan to infest. They construct elaborate mud tube tunnel systems to access their food sources. Nests are typically found in soil near a moisture source, such as a water leak or a damp foundation.


  • Considered the most damaging termite species in the nation, subterranean termites are relentless foragers. 
  • They live underground, continuously consuming wood that contacts the soil. 
  • Known as the “silent destroyers”, they feed on the interior of wood allowing them to go undetected until extensive damage is caused.  
  • Subterranean termites cause over $5 billion in damage to homes annually. 

Subterranean Termites in Modesto CA

Modesto’s pleasant climate provides an ideal environment for subterranean termites to flourish. They build their colonies underground and relentlessly forage for cellulose-rich food sources, such as wood. Any wood material in a home is a potential food source, and infestations can be difficult to detect until the damage becomes severe. This is because they consume the wood from the inside, leaving the outside structure intact and allowing them to go undetected. Given the nature of these termites and the extensive structural damage they cause to homes, proactive treatment is highly recommended.

Subterranean Termite Habitat

Subterranean termites live underground and feed on wood. These termites build tunnels, commonly referred to as “mud tubes,” to protect them from predators and exposed air which can dry them out. These termites are highly organized and social insects, working in large colonies with a well-defined caste system comprising workers, soldiers, and reproductive termites. During their mating season, they release winged reproductive termites, known as swarmers. If you notice swarms of winged insects around your home, it could be a sign of an infestation. 

Subterranean Termite Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Because termites consume cellulose, any wood material in a house is a potential food source. Termites are secretive, and when termite damage becomes evident, it is usually the result of a few years of infestation. The presence of swarming termites or their wings alone is a sure sign that termites are working in a building. Winged termites are attracted to light and will swarm around doors and windows. After fluttering about for a short time, the termites break off their wings and pair off, becoming king and queen of a new termite colony. Swarming termites can often be mistaken for winged ants, so remain vigilant! To prevent or control a subterranean termite infestation, it’s important to enlist the help of a professional termite exterminator.