Ants also have two pair of wings but the fore wings are much larger than the hind wings. The abdomen of the termite is broadly joined to the thorax while the abdomen and thorax of the ant are joined by a narrow waist called a petiole.
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Subterranean termites are social insects. There are three types (castes) of termite adults in a colony; 1) reproductives; 2) workers; and 3) soldiers. Reproductives can be winged, primary reproductives called alates or swarmers or wingless, secondary reproductives.
Winged reproductives have 1/4 to 3/8 inch long pale yellow-brown to black bodies and bear four wings of equal size that may be smoky gray to brown and have few wing veins. Termite workers are white and soft bodied. Soldiers resemble worker termites, except that they have enlarged brownish heads and strong, well-developed jaws. Soldiers defend the colony from invaders, primarily ants.
The Formosan termite, found primarily in the greater Houston-Galveston area and Beaumont-Port Arthur, is another subterranean species. It is larger than the subterranean termite and has a pale yellow body color, the head shape of the soldier cast is more oval, and the wings of reproductives are hairy.
Colonies, found in spaces such as wall voids or in hollows dug in wood both in or on the ground, are built of a mixture of chewed wood and soil cemented together, called carton. Reproductives swarm in late afternoon and evening, and are attracted to lights.
Drywood termites are light yellow to black with clear to smoky gray wings, about 7/16 inch long. Worker termites (nymphs), and are up to 3/8 inch long, wingless, white to grayish with white to yellowish-brown heads, and soldiers are similar but with large rectangular darker heads bearing well developed jaws (mandibles) used to defend the colony.
Since colonies are usually constructed inside wood, finding these termites can be difficult during routine pest inspections. Therefore, one of the best ways to identify an active infestation is the presence of fecal pellets.
Drywood termite fecal pellets are kicked out of the colony by workers and may accumulate below infestations. Fecal pellets have a distinct ridged shape and are about 1/25" long (about the size of table salt).