What Color are Termites?

Have you seen termites scurry about after you have kicked over a rotting log? You would likely describe them as white and larval looking. These termites are worker termites, which primarily are responsible for feeding their nestmates and building and maintaining mud tubes.

If you see termites in and around your home, you are most likely looking at winged (swarming) termites. Once or twice a year, mature termite colonies send out reproductive termites (called alates) to start colonies. Compared to workers, alates have wings, fully developed eyes and much darker and harder bodies. Based on these characteristics, some homeowners may confuse termite swarmers with flying ants.

Color of Termites by Caste
Termites are divided into three main castes based on their roles and responsibilities in the colony. Termites’ color and physical characteristics vary based on the tasks they need to complete.

Nymph & Worker Termites
Generally speaking, nymph and worker termites are pale in color and have soft bodies.

Soldier Termites

Drywood Soldier Termite Picture:
nevada dampwood termite image

The soldier termites’ soft bodies are often pale in color. Their enlarged heads are hard and may be a wide variety of colors, from yellow to reddish-orange to black.

Reproductive Termites

Winged alates may be pale yellow to light brown, or dark brown to black. Their hard bodies and dark color help them retain moisture, which enables them to leave their nests without drying out.

Termites’ wing colors vary by species, ranging from colorless, almost translucent, to gray or brown. The number of veins in wings is often a clue to the species. Drywood termites and most dampwood termites have front wings with three major veins, while subterranean, Formosan and some dampwood termites have front wings with two major veins.

Secondary and tertiary reproductives are light in color, similar to worker termites. However, termites in these castes also have wing buds that differentiate them from workers.