What are Subterranean Termites?

Subterranean termites are common pests in Kansas City. These sneaky, underground termites are responsible for more than $5 billion in damages yearly! Because they are so prevalent in Kansas and Missouri, let’s explore what makes subterranean termites different and how to identify them.

What do subterranean termites look like?

To distinguish subterranean termites from other termite species, you need to look at their soldiers and alates. Worker termites look the same regardless of species, making it more challenging to determine which type of termites are invading your space.

Alates (swarmers)

Subterranean termite alates have either dark-brown or black-colored bodies between ¼ and ½ inch long. They have two sets of evenly-sized and light-colored wings.


Worker termites —The worker termite supplies the food to the colony. The workers cause all of the damage to your home. They lay down pheromone trails to indicate a food source so the other termites in the colony can follow it. .


Like subterranean termite workers, soldiers don’t have wings, but they are identifiable by their creamy-white bodies, yellow-orange head, and large mandibles. They protect the colony from other predators such as ants. 

Damage from subterranean termites

The appearance of termite damage also differs depending on the species infesting your home or building, making this a quick way to determine what swarms are invading your property.


Subterranean termites build their nests underground, so any damaged wood will usually have soil or mud collected in the termite’s tunnels. Subterranean termites also only eat softwood, so the damage will be more layered as they work around the hardwood.


These smaller, moisture-loving termites also prefer the path of least resistance. As a result, they will feed “with the grain” of the wood, while their larger drywood cousins feed across the wood. This allows subterranean termites to feed much faster, causing rapid damage before you even know they’re there!


Subterranean termites are considered the most dangerous species of termite in the world. Though they aren’t as common as other species, they can cause catastrophic damage. They can compromise the integrity of support beams, sub-flooring, insulation, foundations, and even plastic plumbing pipes as they burrow through softwood and leave a mess of mud tubes in their wake. In other words, you can’t leave it to chance!

Where do subterranean termites live?

Termites build their nests inside the wood where they burrow and eat, subterranean termites set up their homes in moist, underground places. This colony acts as their base of operations, from which they build tunnels or mud tubes to search for food.


Subterranean termites depend on moisture for survival, making keeping the soil near your home dry one of the best preventative measures to take against these termites.


Geographically, these termites are the most common in humid, southern states and less prevalent in the cold. That said, they exist in almost every state, including Kansas and Missouri!

How to prevent subterranean termites

The best way to deal with subterranean termites is to prevent them from ever discovering your home or building! Here are a few things you can do to protect your home from termites and make the exterior of your building less hospitable to this particular species:


  • Keep the soil around the foundation of your building dry (especially through proper drainage with gutters and downspouts)
  • Reduce humidity in basement and crawl spaces with dehumidifiers and proper ventilation
  • Avoid storing firewood or other wood scraps and debris around the building


In addition to these preventative measures you can take on your own, you should schedule regular termite inspections at least once a year. These inspections are vital for residential and commercial property owners to keep termites from damaging your property. You can save thousands in repair bills by investing a little in termite inspections!

What to do if you have a subterranean termite infestation

If you have discovered signs of subterranean termite activity in or around your home, contact Advantage Pest Control immediately to schedule an extermination! Termites are very destructive, and DIY measures won’t eliminate them. 


Advantage Pest Control uses a fast-acting termite control method that requires no digging, trenching, structural drilling, or harsh chemicals injected into the ground. The Sentricon System’s Always Active technology is designed to last well beyond the eradication of a termite colony, preventing other colonies from moving in for months after!


If you need a termite inspection or suspect termite activity in or near your home or commercial property, give us a call to schedule an appointment!

Serving Kansas City Metro and Lawrence

Call 913.768.8989 to Get Your Free Estimate Today
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