Home Termites Contol What do Termites look like? Pictures, Size, Color & Look-alikes

What do Termites look like? Pictures, Size, Color & Look-alikes

Termites are small yet very destructive insects.  Since they share some features with several other insects in terms of appearance, it is important to know how exactly termites look like in pictures, size and color. We have also included a list of insects that look like termites to help you clear up any confusion.

What do Termites look like to the Human Eye?

Termites have a soft body, and they are grey, brown, or white. There are different types of termites and you will need to know how each of these termites looks like.

What does a termite look like in size, color and picture
Termite photo

Although the various types of termites are similar in one way or another, there are differences used to distinguish them. Good news is that you can identify termites by simply using your naked eye.

The three main things pointed out as differences between termites and any other insects is that; their waist is straight, their antennae are straight, and the length of the wings is the same. This will be clearer from the discussion below.

A termite is an insect and therefore has three body parts. The three main parts are;


Termites have a head from which the antennae form. The antennae are straight and they look like small beads which have been put together.


This is the part of the termite where movement is based and is divided into three segments. The termites have three pairs of legs; each pair attached to each of the three segments.

In case of winged termites or swarmers, they have wings attached to the last two segments of the thorax.


This is the relatively bigger part of the three and is basically for respiration, digestion, circulation, and reproduction.

The appearance of a termite may also vary based on what stage in its growth cycle it is at.

For instance, you can always point out physical differences between a baby termite and an adult termite.


Discussed below is how a termite looks like based on its stage in the growth cycle as well as the type of termite;

Baby termites

The young termites have bodies that are white in color. On their heads, there are two antennae which stick out. Those are the most outstanding features that will help you identify a baby termite.

What baby termites/nymph look like

Since the baby termites are very similar to ants, you can differentiate the two by looking at their antennae. The antennae of the baby termites will always be pointed out rather than curved.

Other features that will aid you identify baby termites is by looking at their waist and their wings. The waist of these termites is thick while their wings appear to have the same size.

Flying termites

Also known as swarmers, flying termites are winged termites. These types of termites have two pairs of wings.

What Winged flying-looks like
How a termite with wings looks like

This is majorly what you can use to identify which of the termites are flying termites.  However, before mating, the termites usually shed the wings.

Subterranean termites

You need to know the differences in appearance of the different subterranean termites, that is, the reproductive, worker, and soldier. Considered immature, these termites have no wings and they are immature.

Reproductive termites have eyes and wings. The wings are however shed as soon as the termite lands. The soldier termites on the other hand have a yellow-brown head.

The head is elongated and has black mandibles. They are blind and like the workers, they have no wings.

Drywood termites

Dry wood termites can be distinguished from the others by the fact that they have relatively shorter legs.

Just like the other termites, they have antennae that are straight. They also have a thick waist. Depending on whether the termite is a worker, a soldier or a reproducer, the color will vary from black to cream.

Termite Pictures/Images

queen, worker, soldier and king termites
queen, worker, soldier and king termites
formosan type termite photo
formosan termite
dampwood termites type facts and pictures
dampwood termites
picture of what drywood termite looks like
Drywood termite photo
termite swarmer
Termites with wings

Size-How Big are Termites?

How big or small are they

Their size ranges from a quarter to half an inch. The queens and kings are however relatively larger and they grow to as big as an inch.[1] It is important to note that termites vary in size and so no definite size can be given.

What determines their size

There are several determinants of the termites’ sizes. The major ones are age and species. This is as discussed below;

Queen and King Termites

Unlike the young termites which are very small, the king and queen termites are approximately one inch in length.

The queen termites are in most cases found to be bigger since their egg producing abdomens may be way bigger.

Subterranean termite

These are the termites whose length ranges from 1/8 of an inch to about 3/8 of an inch. The soldier termites are found to be relatively longer. The queen in the colony of termites may have the abdomen overgrowing to as long as 2 inches.

Formosan termites

Compared to the domestic subterranean termites, formosan subterranean termites are found to be larger by about 10% to 20 %. Following their large sizes, their nests are always larger.

Drywood termites

When the drywood termites mature up, they are about 3/8 inches in length. However, as they gain their reproductive ability, they may grow even bigger and bigger.

Dampwood termites

These are considered to be the largest termites in the United States. When fully grown, the workers and soldiers under this species will have an approximate length of 1/2 to 5/8 inches.[2]

What color are termites-Red or Black?

What determines the color?

Termites vary in color depending on two major aspects; caste and type. This is broadly discussed below;


Here, termites are classified depending on the role they play in the colony. This means, you can know the chores of a given termite as long as you know the color associated with such a role.

Worker termites

These termites are pale in color. They are mostly off-white. The only time the worker time has a different color is if it is sick. At such a time, it appears to be mottled.

Soldier termites

Like the worker termites, these termites are pale in color. Distinguishing them from the others is that their heads have a range of colors.

Their head is either red orange, or yellow, or black. You will also notice some white spots on the head of the worker termite.

Reproductive termite

Also referred to as termite swarms, breeders or alates, this class of termites have a range of colors, either from dark brown to black or from pale yellow to light brown.

Type of termite

There are numerous types of termites and they have varying colors. This is as discussed below;

Subterranean termites

These termites have white wings and their bodies are black. The Formosan species of the subterranean termites is however different from the rest in that its body is yellow-brown.

Drywood termites

The drywood termites have black wings and red bodies. The color of the wings and its unique red body makes it easy to identify the drywood termites on dead trees, structural timbers or on hardwood floors.

Dampwood termites

These are the termites whose name has an origin of where they live. They thrive in moist places and they are either light yellow or tan.

Red termites

The termites that have a red body are the drywood termites as discussed above. These termites are always distinguished from the other types by their red body as well as black wings.

Black termites

Although you will hardly come across black termites, they exist. Swarmers are the type of termites that can be black. They have black bodies and wings that are not only veined but also clear.

There are also yellow termites such as the dampwood termites. They are described as having light yellow bodies.

What does a termite Nest &Hole look like?


Termite colonies live in nests. The different species of termites structure their nests differently.

The way the nests are constructed depends on factors such as moisture, sources of food, and the protective needs.

The nests are reported to be large and to have a radius of approximately 50 to 100 meters.

what a termite nest looks like
Nest on tree
Huge termite mound

Subterranean termite nests

These termites build their nests underground since they require a lot of moisture. They are usually about 4 to 18 inches into the ground.

The nests are made of several rooms usually referred to as galleries. The tunnels that connect the galleries are made of mud. Subterranean termite nests can have a diameter whose size ranges from 330 to 690 feet.

The species of subterranean termites referred to as Formosan termites build the largest nests. This is maybe for them to accommodate their large colonies.

The formosan termites build their nests above the ground as they do not need to conserve moisture. When built above the ground, the nests are now referred to as cartons. They are constructed using soil, chewed or un-chewed wood.

Drywood nests

Drywood termite nests on the other hand set up their nests in any dry wood where they can create a secure home.

The structure of their nest is not significantly different from that of subterranean termites.  The only difference is that the nests of drywood termites are found in wooden items.


Termite holes are estimated to be 1/8 inch. They can be smaller than that. Termites that live in nest leave them using the exit holes.

how termite holes look like
termite holes

When the swarming termites leave the nest, the nymph termites seal the holes. Cement like material that is brown in color is what the termites use to seal the holes. This material is made from feces.

You must always remember that other insects can create similar holes. Unless a professional draws the conclusion for you, do not conclude that you have a termite infestation yet.

You should also note that subterranean termites do not leave holes on wood since they stay underground.

Instead of using holes to exit, they use mud tubes. It is only if you spot a swarm that you will see the termite holes since they are otherwise always covered.

Bugs that look like Termites

There are some bugs that maybe confused for termites. They include the following;

Carpenter ants

Termites and ants live in colonies. They both feed on wood. Carpenter ants are the type of ants that closely looks like the termites.

wingless ant

Acrobat ants

Another type of ants with similar features to those of termites is acrobat ants. The only outstanding difference between the two insects is that they have a segmented body.

Powderpost beetles

Like termites, this type of beetles feed on wood. The beetles also make holes on the wood just like the drywood termites. The beetles also make holes on the wood just like the drywood termites.

Carpenter bees

These bees love the wood and they construct tunnels into the wood to construct a home.

This therefore means that you must look out for distinct features to establish which between termites and bees has made a home in your wood.

carpenter bee
carpenter bee

Old house borers

This is another type of a beetle which constructs tunnels and holes on woods and thus being confused for termites. The only difference is that the old house borers make noise when causing damage while termites do it silently.

Flying ants

These ants are mostly confused with swarmers. This is mainly because they are both winged. They both have four wings. However, unlike the ants, termite wings are of equal size.

acrobat carpenter ants
Winged Ants

Further Reading

General Facts


Termite Control

Below are details on how to identify the signs and damages guides on how to get rid, kill, treat and prevent termites


[1] https://www.orkin.com/termites/

[2] http://www.termitesgonewild.com/termite-pictures/how-big-are-termites/