Termites: Identification & Description

A subterranean termite is an insect that looks similar to an ant, but has a softer shell and can differ in color. The Eastern subterranean termite is the most common variation of termite found in the Boston area. These subterranean termites are either creamy in color resembling rice or black with wings, depending on the job duties of the termite within the colony. While termites are a pest for our homes and buildings, they serve an important environmental function: breaking down fallen/dead wood.

Wingless, worker termites


Eastern subterranean termites swarm during the spring and early summer, with “swarmer” termites leaving the nest to find mates and begin new colonies. Swarmers nest in warm soil and debris that is close to a food source, preferring mornings after a rain when the temperature is around 70 degrees to begin nesting. Termites lack the ability to understand if there is an abundance or shortage of food, so they are diligent and steadfast in the pursuit of new food sources.
A winged termite accompanied by soldier termites.

Risks & Treatment

The historic value of many homes in the Boston area can be severely compromised by the presence of subterranean termites. Easter subterranean termite colonies can hold anywhere from 250,000 to several million termites, each one tireless in the efforts to eat wood and other debris. Subterranean termites can deteriorate structures relatively quickly, causing structures and buildings to collapse and posing a physical threat to home residents.
To rid a home of subterranean termites, it may be necessary to treat the wood to make it unfavorable to termites. Boston termite control may also require the installation of a baiting system such as Sentricon. Sentricon will eliminate existing termites with little harm to the environment. Liquid treatments will deter termites, so the type of termite control that is chosen will depend on the extent of the infestation.


The best way to treat for termites is to prevent them in the first place. The traditional way to prevent termites was to pump liquid termiticide into the ground around the house to create a perimeter. Our current preferred method is Sentricon. Stations are placed around the house with an active bait that the termites will feed on and bring back to their colony and eliminate it. To learn more, visit our Termite Control page.

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