Guide to Different Types of Termites

Jun 10, 2023 | Termites

Guide to Different Types of Termites

With over 45 different species of termites in the U.S., it is easy to understand how these destructive pests can do over $5 billion in damage every year. But how do you identify the different types of termites in our area, and is the presence of one type worse than the other? Here in the Coachella Valley, there are three main types of termites, with a few different species of each type common to our area.

This guide will help explain the three different types of termites, the common species found in our area, and how to identify them around your home.

While no homeowner wants to find termites in or around their home, learning how to identify this destructive pest can help you identify its presence before it can cause significant damage.

Key takeaways

  • There are three main types of termites in the Coachella Valley: subterranean, drywood, and dampwood. Each has unique characteristics and behaviors that can help you identify them.
  • Subterranean termites are the biggest threat to homes. They build mud tubes from their nests to their food source in your home. If you spot these, it’s time to call a pro!
  • Drywood termites don’t need as much moisture and leave behind dry fecal pellets. If you find piles of these, you likely have an infestation.
  • Dampwood termites love wet environments and feast on damp wood. Luckily, they’re not usually a problem for homes since our building wood isn’t that damp.
  • It’s tough to tell termite species apart, but where you find them and their behaviors can clue you in. If you find any signs of termites, don’t DIY – get professional help to tackle the issue.

3 types of termites in the Coachella Valley

Here in the Coachella Valley, there are three main species types of termites: Subterranean, Drywood, and Damp wood. While each of these types of termites can cause damage to your home, the most destructive types are the subterranean, followed by drywood termites.

1. Subterranean termites

Subterranean termites, and more specifically, the Formosan termite, are the biggest threat to homes in California. These termites require moist conditions and typically build their colonies in the soil surrounding your home. They build colonies near their food sources while building mud tubes to connect their nest to your home and their source of food. The good news is the presence of these tubes is a direct sign you have a termite problem, and this problem should be addressed immediately before they get to work. Because these colonies are usually very large, they can cause significant damage to your home in a very short time, and professional termite control is recommended.

Defining characteristics

    • Measuring from one-fifth of an inch in length to around a half inch in length for the Formosan.
    • Coloring can range from creamy white to a yellowish color all the way to dark shades of brown.
    • Transparent wings with small hairs
    • They build mud tunnels from their nest to their food source within your home.


Subterranean termites are found in every U.S. state except Alaska. Formosan species are found in Alabama, Florida, California, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, North Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee.

2. Drywood termites

Found most often in coastal areas, drywood termites create small colonies and do not require access to as much moisture as the other types of termites. They produce dry fecal pellets instead of liquid and push them out through “kick holes.” Piles of these pellets, or droppings, are often the first sign of a drywood termite infestation. These termites enter the home through openings in attic or foundation vents, between wood shingles, cracks around the foundation, or will simply walk in through a door or window. Common species include the Western, Southeastern, and Desert drywood termites.

Defining characteristics

    • Drywood termites have a narrow body and can measure between ¼ inch to a full inch in length.
    • They are typically a creamy white color, and many will have wings.


Drywood termites are most commonly found in Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas.

3. Damp wood termites

As their name suggests, damp wood termites thrive in damp environments. They do not need soil to build their colonies but will instead build large colonies within damp wood, including live trees. Their colonies are large in size, and they have huge appetites, allowing them to eat and destroy large amounts of wood in a short period of time. While this could mean serious devastation to a home, the good news is that most home construction wood does not have the level of moisture these termites look for, so it is very rare to find these termites infesting a home and causing damage.

Defining characteristics

    • Three-fourths of an inch in length
    • Reddish-brown in color
    • Hard outer shell


You can find damp wood termites in Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington.

Letters spelled as FAQ inside small boxes

Frequently asked questions

Here we answer some of the common questions we hear from homeowners when it comes to termites.

Which termites do the most damage?

The most destructive termites are the subterranean termites. These termites live in large colonies in the soil and build mud tubes to access above-ground food sources such as wood. They can cause significant structural damage to buildings, especially if left untreated.

How do you identify different types of termites?

Identifying termites can be difficult, as they are small and often hide in walls or underground. A clear way to identify the presence of subterranean termites is to look for the presence of mud tubes around your home’s foundation.

In contrast, drywood termites do not require soil and are more likely to feed on hardwoods found in furniture and hardwood flooring. Their presence is often indicated by dry pellets of feces found around wood. Damp wood termites are more likely to be discovered in wet, decayed wood outside. If they do venture into your home, it is likely in basements or areas with significantly high humidity.

Learning which termites may be causing damage

While distinguishing the difference between physical termite species can be difficult given they are similar in color and appearance, their location and how they are moving about is more likely to give them away. If you discover termites or signs of termites in and around your home, it is important to address their presence as soon as possible in order to prevent colony growth and significant structural damage.

Keeping your home termite-free

While you may be tempted to address a termite problem on your own, professional termite control is recommended in order to ensure the colony is destroyed and any potential damage is identified. Professional termite control services, like those offered by Arrest a Pest, include a thorough inspection of your property, termite identification, and identification of structural damage. Once the termites are eliminated, our experts will work with you to ensure your home remains termite-free. To learn more, schedule an appointment today.

Adam Judnich

Adam Judnich

Owner @ Arrest A Pest

Serving the entire Coachella Valley

Arrest A Pest is your top-rated pest and bug control solution in the Coachella Valley! As a family-owned and operated business, our technicians grew up in the Coachella Valley and have a deep understanding of the pests in our area.

We understand that every pest infestation is an emergency, and we offer quick, safe, and thorough pest solutions and preventions for your home or business. No matter what pests are invading your space, our technicians are armed with state-of-the-art technology designed to rid your home or business of pests and help you stay pest-free long into the future.

Contact us today to schedule your FREE evaluation and let our team send the pests packing!

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