The picture above reveals exit holes from subterranean termites. What kind of termites may be living in that wall? East Cooper residents may see subterranean termites exit drywall, window casings, door jambs, etc. as they look for additional food or create an “exit” hole for swarming termites. Many homeowners have questions about the difference between Formosan and Eastern Subterranean termites. How can you tell if these termites are Formosan or Eastern Subterranean termites? You may need a microscope, entomology degree, or the help of your experienced pest control technician.

Formosan termites and Eastern Subterranean termites are all subterranean termites. They both eat wood or cellulose. They both live in colonies. They both grow wings and swarm at certain times of the year. They both need a moisture source to survive. They both create shelter tubes. They both basically live the same way and they can be controlled the same way.

Most entomologists can identify the Formosan termite swarmer by looking at its wings under a microscope. The vein pattern in the wings and the little hairs on the wings are clues that tell them it’s a Formosan termite. People who have worked in the pest control industry can sometimes identify a Formosan termite by the shape of its head, number of soldiers in the colony, size or color of the swarmer, or the white substance that the soldiers secrete out of their heads when provoked. 

The main difference between Eastern Subterranean termites and Formosan termites, other than being from the island of Formosa, is the Formosan colonies are usually much larger. Formosan colonies can number in the millions, while the Eastern Subterranean termite colonies may be only several hundred thousand. The other main difference is the ability of the Formosan termite to build a nest or ”carton” in the wall of a structure. This carton allows the Formosan termite colony to maintain a moisture source above ground if their highway or tunnel to the earth has been destroyed or chemically treated.

If you have trouble identifying what type of subterranean termite you are seeing, just call East Cooper Termite and Pest Solutions.