Subterranean Termites

Facts, Identification & Control


Reticulitermes spp.

Coptotermes spp.

Heterotermes spp.


  • Subterranean termites nest in the soil, from which they obtain most of their moisture, and feed on any wood in contact with soil.
  • Occasionally, a subterranean termite colony may find a source of moisture in the wood, from a leaking pipe or roof, for examples, so contact with the soil is no longer necessary.
  • To reach wood that is separated from the soil, these termites must build a connecting mud tube or tunnel.
  • Because they rely on soil moisture, they're affected by soil types.
  • In clay soils, moisture is not as readily available because it is tightly bound to the soil particles.
  • Sandy soils have more available mositure for subterranean termites.
  • Are more prevalent and more able to survive in sandy soils.


  • Subterranean termites usually swarm from January through June, depending on temperature and rain conditions, and usually during daylight.
  • The reproductives are stimulated to break out of the colony by a warm day after a spring rain. The rule of thumb is that swarming will generally occur within 10 days after a warm spring rain
  • Several swarms may occur from the same colony the first swarm is usually the largest.
  • Not all colonies will swarm every year.
  • Subterranean termites usually burrow under trees or decaying wood, or in soil that is in contact with wood.
  • They rarely use crevices in trees to initiate a colony.


  • Subterranean termites remain hidden within wood. Those actually doing the feding are seldom seen. However, Imperium can detect the presence of termites in several ways.
  • Termites usually come to the attention of Imperium in the spring when the winged reproductives swarm.
  • Although a termite swarm out-of-doors near a structure does not necessarily mean your structure is infested.
  • If swarmers emerge inside the structure, they will be attracted to light and their broken-off wings may be found near windows and doors.
  • Subterranean termite feeding follows the grain of the wood and usually only the soft spring wood is eaten.
  • Subterranean termites do not push wood particles or pellets (fecal material) outside the galleries, as do other wood-boring insects, but rather use them in the construction of their tunnels.