Types of Termites

The Three Main Types of Termites

There are about 45 different kinds of species of termites found in the U.S., each of which falls into one of the three main termite types – subterranean, drywood or dampwood. Each species has unique biology and behavior that impact what part of the country they live in, where they build their nests and their likelihood to damage homes.

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean Termites belong to the family Rhinotermitidae. This species lives in the soil and builds the largest nests of any insect in the U.S. These nests are connected via mud tubes to food sources, such as trees, fence posts and structural timbers in houses. Subterranean termites, which can live in every U.S. state except Alaska, are responsible for the majority of termite damage in this country.

Drywood Termites

Drywood Termites belong to the family Kalotermitidae and typically live in wood, such as dead trees, structural timbers or hardwood floors. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not require contact with soil. Some drywood termite species can cause significant damage to homes. However, drywood termite colonies tend to be smaller than subterranean termite colonies, so they typically cause damage at a slower rate than subterranean termites.

Dampwood Termites

Dampwood Termites belong to the families Kalotermitidae and Hodotermitidae and live in wood with high moisture content. Most dampwood termites do not require contact with the soil. Dampwood termites are rarely found in homes or other man-made structures, since wood in these structures typically does not have enough moisture.

Subterranean Worker and Soldier Termites:
closeup pic of different termite types

Identifying Termite Species
Worker and nymph termites have few physical differences between species. Therefore, experts primarily use soldiers and termite reproductives (typically alates or swarmers) to identify which termite species may be infesting a home.