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Formosan Termites
Formosan Termites

Learn About Formosan Termites

Formosan termites are the most damaging and aggressive of termite species and are found in states across the southern U.S., including Texas. As a type of Subterranean termites, Formosan termites also live in underground colonies. Because of their large colony size and reproductive capacity, they can ingest wood at a faster rate than any other species -- causing faster damage to your home. Their termite colonies are organized into castes depending on tasks -- workers, soldiers, and winged reproductives. The workers provide the food for the colony, the soldiers defend the nest, and the reproductives breed!

Pest Identification


1/8 - 3/8 in. (workers and soldiers); ½ to ⅝ in. (swarmers)


Worker and soldier termites are creamy off-white in color, while swarmers are yellowish-brown.

Body Structure

While workers are difficult to distinguish from other termites, the head of the soldiers are oval and egg-shaped, whereas other species have rectangular-shaped heads. Swarmers, also known as “primary reproductives,” feature similar bodies as workers only with wings -- which are covered in tiny hairs.


Formosan termites are organized by a caste system with a king, queen, workers, soldiers, and alates (winged termites). Termites begin the life cycle by swarming. After winged males and females mate, they shed their wings and begin a new colony, becoming the “king” and “queen.” As the king and queen, they are the sole reproducers. After the queen’s eggs hatch, the offspring assume the various roles of the caste. Primary reproductives eventually leave the colony to swarm, mate and form new colonies. Wingless secondary reproductives, however, never leave the colony and are present to support the queen. Workers are sexually underdeveloped and do not mate; instead, they are in charge of building tunnels as well as feeding other castes. Soldiers handle the defense of the colony, using their large mouthparts to fight off predators. Queens may live up to 15 years under ideal conditions and produce up to 2,000 eggs per day. Workers and soldiers, on the other hand, live about 3-4 years.

Habitat & Behavior

Dependent upon moisture for survival, Formosan termites build nests in the soil and reach above-ground food sources by constructing shelter tubes. Their colony may contain more than 1 million members, and feature an intricate series of tunnels leading to food sources. The shelter tubes protect them from the outside elements, allowing them to transport food in a moist environment. A very evident sign of a termite infestation is visible tubes running along a foundation or along beams in a basement area of a home. Likewise, termites swarming around your home (such as near indoor lights or windowsills) is also a tell-tale sign that you have a termite infestation. Termites feed primarily on detritus; however, Formosan termites, in particular, are known to digest non-cellulose material, such as thin sheets of metals such as lead or copper, asphalt, rubber, and plastic.

Commonly Active

Late spring or summer following a warm, rainy day

Prevention & Treatment

Aside from getting annual termite inspections, a good way to prevent Formosan termites is to control sources of excess moisture around your home, such as leaks in outdoor faucets and drains. If mud tubes are noted around a foundation or swarmers are spotted near your home, contact a termite control professional immediately. A trained professional will be equipped to locate the colony and tunnels and then administer the proper treatment to eliminate Formosan termites. Find out more about our termite treatment and prevention options by contacting us today!

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