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There are three types of termites, workers, swarmers and reproductives. Only the reproductive termites can reproduce, and these are the king and queen, which mate periodically throughout the queen’s 30-year lifetime. One group of the workers are functional workers, who can molt and become soldiers, swarmers or secondary reproductives based on the colony’s need.


There are three stages of subterranean termites, reproductive, workers, and soldiers.

Reproductive Termites

  • The reproductive termites, also known as swarmer or flying termites, are dark colored with wings and are seen swarming in the air, on windowsills, or by doors. Sometimes the wings detached.

Worker Termites

  • Workers constitute the majority of the colony. In this stage, they damage wood or cellulose material. They are whitish with thin antennae, soft bodied, and about ¼ of an inch in length.

Soldier Termites

  • The soldiers defend or protect the colony from intruders. They are whitish with a brown mandible or jaw. Workers and soldiers hide in mud tubes or in the nest and you mainly see them when you disturb the nest or tubes.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

You can find them Subterranean termites throughout Oklahoma. These termite colonies are found in the soil. The termites forage to the surface to feed on paper, wood and other similar cellulose materials. Buildings and homes provide termites with heat, protection and an abundant food source that’s ideal for year-round feeding. Since they typically feed undetected, people consider them to be a silent destroyer and a highly destructive pest.


Each termite goes through metamorphosis, which is a change in form from one stage of their lifecycle to another. A termites’ metamorphosis consists of the egg, nymph, and adult.

Termites are social insects and live in colonies. A colony of subterranean termites consists of workers, soldiers, and reproductives. Workers build and maintain the nest, forage, and feed the colony. Two groups of workers are sterile workers and functional workers. Sterile workers will never reproduce while functional workers can molt and become soldiers, swarmers, and secondary reproductives based on the need of the colony. Soldiers are sterile and their sole purpose is to protect the colony from invaders. Reproductive termites are the king and queen that began as swarmers, mated, and started the colony. They mate periodically throughout the queen’s 30-year lifetime. When a colony matures and the primary king and queen need more reproductive termites, the functional workers molt and become secondary reproductives. If anything happens to the primary king and queen the secondary will replace them.

Signs of an Infestation

There are several signs that show the presence of termites including, active or live termites, shelter/mud tubes, frass, exit holes, and damage. Shelter tubes (seen above) are the muddy shelters termites build to protect themselves while accessing their food source. You can often see tubes on sheetrock, concrete foundation, in crawl spaces and other visible areas. Frass is termite droppings, often found around tubes, damage and exit holes. Exit holes are pin to nail-sized holes found in sheetrock, trim boards, and other building materials. A termite inspector or other qualified contractor determines whether damage to a property was caused by termites.


The easiest way to make your home less attractive to termites is to eliminate moisture problems, reduce food sources and have an annual termite inspection by a licensed termite inspector.

Moisture problems can be caused by leaking faucets, water pipes and a/c units, clogged gutters and drains and excessive mulch and foliage around structures. We recommend you fix all leaks in a timely manner, regularly clean drains and gutters, regularly trim foliage and remove old mulch to eliminate common moisture problems.

To eliminate potential food sources, remove tree stumps and debris around your foundation. We recommend that you do not leave firewood piles, lumber, and other cellulose materials on the ground around the foundation or in the crawl space. Also make sure that the soil is not in direct contact with any wood, such as siding, on your home.

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