termite eating a log in a washington backyard

What do Western subterranean termites look like?

Found in Washington and along the Pacific Coast, western subterranean termites live below ground in large colonies that are made up of castes. Like other subterranean termites, what they look like depends on what caste they belong to. 

foraging termite workers in yakima wa
Termite workers
Termite workers are wingless, soft-bodied, and look very similar in size and shape to whitish or cream-colored ants. These insects make up the bulk of a termite colony and are responsible for gathering food for the rest of the colony.
termite solider in ellensburg wa
Termite Soldiers
Similar in appearance to workers, termite soldiers have large rectangular heads that are orange or amber in color. They have large pincher-like mouthparts that they use to defend the colony. Interestingly, they are blind.
winged termite swarmers in yakima washington
Reproductives, also known as termite swarmers, have brown bodies with light brownish-gray wings. They have two pairs of wings not equal in size; their front wings are larger than their hind ones. Reproductives will leave existing termite colonies in order to find a mate and establish a new colony. 

Why do I have a problem with western subterranean termites?

Western subterranean termites feed on wood and other materials that contain cellulose (the main substance found in plant cell walls and vegetable fibers. If your property has fallen trees, stumps, decaying logs, or if your structure has water damaged or rotting wood, you could find yourself dealing with these wood destroying pests. While subterranean termites prefer wood that is damaged by water, they will move on to consume sound wood and other materials, both inside and out.  

What are the signs of a western subterranean termite infestation?

Mud tubes and termite swarmers or evidence of them are typically the most common or noticeable signs of a termite infestation. 

Mud tubes

Mud tubes are like super highways for termites and allow them to travel from their underground colonies to their food source without being exposed to air. Mud tubes extend from the ground and are often found running up the foundation or along walls. 

Termite swarmers

Western subterranean termites often swarm in the spring after a rainstorm. Termite swarm occurs when the reproductive members fly from a mature colony in order to mate and create a new nest; in the process they create a termite “swarm”. Witnessing a termite swarm is a good indication that a termite colony is located near your structure or even inside it (you’d likely find piles of termite wings near window sills or on the floor). 

Termite damage

In addition to the two previous signs, damage to your home or business is another indication that termites are active or have been. Unfortunately, subterranean termites are very good at avoiding detection. Infestations are not usually obvious until termites have been present for some time- even years! Termite damage could be dark or blistered wood inside, wood that looks intact but that is actually thin at the surface and easily punctured, and sagging or warped floors and doors. 

Are western subterranean termites dangerous?

Though these termites are highly destructive pests that can cause significant damage to homes and businesses, they are not a health threat to people or pets. 

How do I get rid of western subterranean termites?

In order to completely eliminate a termite colony from your property, you must exterminate the entire colony, including the queen. If she’s not eliminated, the colony will continue to produce members. To ensure that all termite activity in or around your property is removed, you must partner with a pest control company that specializes in termite control. At Prosite Pest Control, we offer effective termite control services in Central Washington that actively address termites already present and that create a barrier around structures to prevent new activity from popping up. To learn more about our liquid termite treatments, our termite warranty, and termite pre-treatments, please visit our termite control page or give us a call.    

How do I prevent problems with western subterranean termites?

Making your property less attractive to termites is the best way to keep them away.  We recommend implementing the following termite prevention tips:

  • Reduce moisture levels inside by using dehumidifiers and properly ventilating crawl spaces
  • Fix leaking pipes, faucets, fixtures and appliances
  • Unclog gutters and make sure downspouts direct water away from the structure
  • Remove wood that has been damaged by water from your structure
  • Avoid soil to wood contact on your property
  • Remove rotting logs, piles of leaves, and other organic debris from your property that could attract termites to it

Helpful Termite Articles

When Are Termites Active In Central Washington?

How Much Damage Can Termites Do In Your Yakima County Home?

The Best Termite Protection For Your Yakima County Property


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