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What’s The Difference Between Flying Tropical Rough Head Drywood Termites and Eastern Subterranean Termites?

September 18, 2021
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Termites are considered to be one of the most expensive pests, especially for homes, due to their destructive nutritional requirements. Termites, like other pests, come in a large variety of species of termites, with roughly 2,750 worldwide. Only a few of them, however, are considered pests because of their interactions with people.

So what's the difference between flying tropical rough head drywood termites and eastern subterranean termites? Drywood termites are brown while subterranean termites are cream-colored. Drywood termite colonies also generally have smaller colonies than that of subterranean termites. Meanwhile, the existence of frass indicates a possible drywood termite infestation, and mud tubes indicate a possible subterranean termite infestation.

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Facts About Drywood Termites

Drywood termites are the less common species of the two, and they are mostly found by the shore and in other damp areas. They require high humidity conditions since they obtain all of their water by removing it from the wood.

Furthermore, drywood termite colonies are often much smaller than subterranean termite colonies because they reside entirely inside the wood they invade. They become more difficult to identify as a result of this.

Eventually, drywood termites prefer both hard and softwoods as a source of nutrients. Because they eat both alongside and around the grain of the wood, their tunnels inside of it vary from those of subterranean termites.


The size of drywood termites varies based on their caste. Soldiers are around three-eighths of an inch long on average. Reproductives (both male and female) are about a half-inch long.


Drywood termites are often pale brown, but they can also be dark brown or light yellowish-tan. Alates, often known as winged termites, have transparent or smokey gray wings.


Drywood termites, like other termite species, are classified into castes. A queen picks a mate (or king) and begins laying eggs once she has found a suitable location for a colony (typically in the rafters of a house). The eggs hatch and join the worker caste, which eats (and destroys) wood and looks after the colony's other members.

Some termites grow into reproductive or army castes as the colony matures. Reproductive termites develop wings, swarm, and establish new colonies. Soldier termites defend the colony from ants, other termites, and other dangers.

Like other termite species, this termite feeds on cellulose, which is present in wood and other plants. This is why they are drawn to wooden structures, which can be seen in homes, fences, and trees. Drywood termites, on the other hand, chew across the grain, destroying both soft springwood and stronger summerwood development.

Learn More: Is It Okay To Spray Swarms of Termites?

How Do You Know If You Have A Drywood Termite Infestation?

The presence of frass is a common indicator of a drywood termite infestation.

Termite waste, often known as frass, is referred to as frass. Dry-wood termites, unlike subterranean species, use feces to create a termite nest and tunnels for foraging. They don’t use it because they only carve holes in wood. They dispose of their excrement by drilling a tiny opening in the lumber and shoving it out.

The accumulation of frass on the ground or concrete slab underneath the wood they are infesting is a clear symptom of a drywood termite infestation. Termite frass may appear to be sawdust at first glance, but closer inspection will reveal granular particles of varied colors.

Though all termites are harmful, drywood termites are the most damaging to houses. Drywood termites, unlike other species, create a colony and dwell inside the wood they feed on. This makes them even more difficult to see, and they can inflict significant termite damage to your home's foundation before you even discover them.

This is why preventive termite management is so crucial for Florida homeowners—you heard that right, an effective control system is better than cure, and this is particularly true when it comes to termites.

Termites create a lot of noise, which can be difficult to detect without a skilled ear. Termite outbreaks can be identified by checking for clicking noises in the wall, which range from loud eating to pounding against wood to warn the colony of danger.

How Do You Control Drywood Termites?

If you don't suspect you have a pest problem but want to avoid one, here are some of the best techniques to keep termites out of your home: 

  • Termite-resistant materials should be used. Termite-resistant woods like Spanish cedar and bald cypress will save you a lot of money in the long run.
  • Firewood and mulch should be kept away from your residence. Keep these goods at least 20 feet away from the house's perimeter.
  • Remove deteriorating fences and old tree stumps. This also applies to any old structures or lumber constructions on your land.
  • To keep termites from ever entering, pre-treat the wood with a termite-specific pesticide.
  • Termite checks should be done once a year. When it comes to being proactive, ensure you have your property checked at least once a year.

Termites should be treated as soon as possible because they do such extensive structural damage. Drywood termites are commonly treated with the following methods:

  • fumigation
  • heat treatments
  • cold treatment
  • wood injection
  • borate treatment
  • micro-electrocution Method

While there are some do-it-yourself termite treatment options, dealing with different types of infestation and selecting the proper treatment approach requires the assistance of a certified professional. We strongly advise against attempting to solve a termite infestation on your own. While using store-bought materials may save you money at first, you run the danger of not removing the infestation and paying extra on repairs in the long term.

Facts About Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites reside in basement colonies or wet, secluded locations above ground with a termite population of up to two million individuals.

Their colony’s caste system determines subterranean termites’ appearance. Soldier termites have strong mouthparts, brown heads, and cream-colored bodies, whereas worker termites are cream-colored and 1/8 to 3/8 inches long, as shown below.

Larger reproductive termites, which resemble flying ants and are about an inch long, round out the caste structure. The solitary, dark vein that runs through the pairs of wings of reproductive subterranean termites distinguishes them from drywood termites.


Their caste determines subterranean termite size. Workers range in length from ⅛ to ⅜ of an inch. Soldiers are the same length as workers, but their heads are larger and their mandibles are more strong. The length of both auxiliary and main reproductives is roughly 1 inch.


Subterranean termites are one of the types of termites that are also colored differently depending on their caste. Workers are light-skinned and cream-colored. Soldiers are the same light color as the civilians, but their heads are brown. Principal reproductives are brown or black, while supplementary reproductives are the same opaque color.


Workers, soldiers, and swarmer termites are the three primary categories of subterranean termites. Each has a specialized function to complete inside the nest, and each is individually equipped with the equipment they require. Termites have eyes in some cases. Some of them don't.

Workers of subterranean termites are little, translucent insects capable of separating wood or other carbohydrates from their source. Workers spend their entire lives underground and above ground in dark tunnels. They have no eyes since they don't require them. However, they can still distinguish between light and dark, which is surprising.

They understand that being in the light puts them at risk of predator attacks, and this also causes them to lose valuable moisture. When worker termites come into contact with light, they flee as rapidly as possible.

Supplementary termite queens assist in the production of eggs and the expansion of the colony as it expands. When a nest is three to five years old, subterranean termite swarmers emerge and eventually leave to start a new colony.

Because they must leave the safety of their dark nest and mud tunnels, these subterranean termites have significantly more developed eyes. They are the only termites that can see out of the three varieties.

How Do You Know If You Have A Subterranean Termite Infestation?

Mud tubes are a significant symptom of a subterranean pest infestation because of their fondness and need for higher humidity settings.

Subterranean termites travel above ground using mud tunnels to seek for food sources. The tubes keep the termites in a humid environment while also protecting them from predators.

The tubes are made of a combination of earth, wood, saliva, and feces. They are dark brown in color and commonly observed along a property's foundations, where termites enter the structure from the adjacent earth and at floor cracks inside it.

Regrettably, detecting termite indications can be difficult, and infestations are sometimes overlooked until it is too late. However, understanding the differences between drywood and subterranean termites, as well as the symptoms to look for, can help you safeguard your house against these wood-eating insects.

How Do You Control Subterranean Termites?

termite infestation

There are some things you can do to avoid a termite infestation, such as:

  • Water should not collect near the foundation of your home. Downpipes, drains, and slap barriers that work properly divert water away.
  • Crawl space wetness can be reduced with proper ventilation.
  • Wood scraps and discarded lumber should never be buried in the yard.
  • Remove any wood from soil contact. Keep a six-inch space between the dirt and the building's wood.

Experts also recommend a termite baiting system as the best strategy to avoid a termite infestation. Good pest control companies provide comprehensive termite treatment based on the Sentricon technology, the most modern termite protection system globally. 

Because these insects can do so much harm in such a short period, it's vital to maintain an eye out for indicators of an infestation. The cardboard-like faeces used to line subterranean termites' mud tunnels, also known as carton nests, can be discovered.

Subterranean termites are the type of termite that are ravenous, yet they only eat softwood and feed along the grain of the wood. Look for their distinctive tunnels running parallel to the natural wood, with only damaged hardwood layers remaining.

Airborne, subterranean termites with straight antennae and four identically sized wings are indications of a subsequent infestation. These swarmers discard their termite wings after breeding, leaving behind a trail of their presence. If you think you have a colony, look for brown wings around the floorboards and around the outside of your house.

If you suspect a termite infestation, fill out the form below to request a full termite examination.

What’s The Difference Between Drywood Termites and Subterranean Termites? 

Drywood termites only contaminate dry wood and do not need soil contact, whereas subterranean termites require soil or water contact to thrive. Learn more about the differences between drywood and subterranean termites in the next paragraphs.

Drywood Termites

  • The caste of drywood termites determines whether they are brown or white. Subterranean termites are smaller than these.
  • Termites reside and build their nests in wooden constructions or dry wood. They do not require soil contact to survive.
  • Frass is the most prevalent indication of a drywood termite infestation. Drywood termites, unlike subterranean termites, do not employ frass in their nests. Frass can be found in mounds near an infestation and resembles sawdust.

Subterranean Termites

  • Drywood termites and termites are comparable to workers, but in different castes. They are different. There are enormous and yellow/brown soldier underground termites and normally the flying termites (alates) are brown/black.
  • They must have access to water in order to exist, hence they normally live in the soil. They require a link to the ground in order to keep their nests and burrows moist enough to thrive and establish nests and tunnels.
  • Subterranean termites can be identified by their mud tubes. They are a dark brown mix of soil, wood, saliva, and feces that can be found around a property's foundations as well as along ground joints within the structure.


The most harmful termites in the United States are subterranean termites. The devastation that these ground termites wreak dwarfs that of drywood termites. While the actual amount of extensive damage caused by these termites is unknown, their cumulative destruction is estimated to be in the billions of dollars each year.

Drywood termites, on the other hand, are more likely to cause visible damage, however harm caused by subterranean termites is not rare. Damage to a structure's wood that comes into contact with the ground may be visible. To reveal itself outside of the wood, these termites demand sunlight and humidity. This damage is frequently discovered in a hidden water-damaged area.

Colony Size

The size of their colonies contributes to the fact that subterranean termites cause greater damage than drywood termites. A typical underground termite colony is substantially larger than a normal drywood termite colony; subterranean termites typically number in the hundreds of thousands, whereas drywood termites usually number in the hundreds or thousands. Colonies of Formosan termites can include up to 2 million individual insects.


Once drywood termites infest a structure, they bore microscopic holes in the wood and force their excrement out. These feces are firm and resemble pepper or coffee grounds in appearance.

Subterranean termites usually build clay pipes on foundation walls to travel from the surface to the timber of a building. These tubes are designed to keep worker termites safe from the drying effects of the sun and air. Initially, Formosan subterranean termites build mud tubes, but once a nest has grown inside the building, they no longer need them.

Read More: What Are Those Flying Insects That Come Out of the Drain?

Treatment Options

Small-scale fumigation is frequently employed as a treatment option for drywood termites since they can infest possessions. This can be achieved by incorporating a piece of wood into a pest management facility and having it fixed in a dedicated compartment or by sending a contained unit to the place where the furniture is being treated.

Managing drywood termites within a home's walls necessitates a direct treatment method that kills the termites on touch. Through trophallaxis or close contact from termite to termite, some materials can also spread throughout an entire colony.

The Sentricon system is the most effective way of managing subterranean termites in the ground. Awarded termite bait system that is environmentally benign and targets invading termites directly while also using worker termites to harm the colony that sent them out into the world. Sentricon can sneak past the colony’s defense mechanisms and destroy the queen because it uses a contaminated bait that is slow-acting. When the queen dies, the swarm as a whole perishes.

Getting Termite Control with Positive Pest Management

Whenever you require assistance in safeguarding your property from all sorts of termites, Positive Pest Management is the way to go. For preventive termite protection and rapid termite control, they employ the most cutting-edge technologies and processes available. Whether you're dealing with subterranean termites or drywood termites, they've got your situation covered. They're the most reliable pest control company you can call for any pest damage control services in your home, whether  you're dealing with subterranean termite infestations, dampwood termites, dampwood termite infestation, species of ants, or any other type of pests.

Our  pest control experts will get the job done for you, your loved ones, and your home’s safety. Contact us to know more about our products and services.

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