Termite Types

Summary: Different termites do different types of damage and require very different types of treatment. Subterranean termites ("subs") and drywood termites ("drywoods") are the most common types found in the US. But, drywood termites are only found in warm, semi-tropical climates.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)

Termite types - "subs" vs. "drywoods"

In the US there are really only two types of termites that homeowners need to be concerned about, namely subterranean termites and drywood termites.

Subterranean termites - These are the most common structure-infesting termites in the US. They nest in the soil and extend colonies into structures by way of so-called shelter tubes. Soil-injected insecticides and specialized baits are the standard treatments for "subs". See this article subterranean termites for additional information and pictures, and control options below.


subterranean termite
**subterranean termite**


Drywood termites - These termites do not nest in the soil but instead build their colonies entirely within the structure, there is no contact with the soil. Drywoods only occur in very warm, semi-topical climates so are restricted to only certain areas in the US (see map here), inside the red areas on the map. Drywoods are more difficult to control since their colonies are hidden within the framework of the building. See this article drywood termites for addition information and pictures, and control options below.

Control options

It is usually not practical for homeowners to treat the soil for subterranean termites. Exterminators have special equipment and expertise needed for this application. However, you can do termite baiting yourself and this is often enough to protect a structure from "subs".

Drywoods, on the other hand, are very difficult for the average do-it-yourself weekend warrior. If you have drywood colonies exposed, for example, during construction you can treat them directly with insecticide foams but more often the extent of the infestation is hidden inside walls.

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