How Big Are Termites? A Size Comparison With Other Insects

Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Mar 03, 2023 By Rajnandini Roychoudhury
Originally Published on Oct 26, 2021
Fact-checked by Pratiti Nath
Group of the small termite on decaying timber

How big do you think are termites?

Are they bigger than ants, beetles, and bees? Well, it depends on the type and caste of the termite.

Termites are a highly social species in the vast Insecta class. Termites are considered pests by humans due to the damage they cause to property. Termite infestations must be addressed as soon as possible.

This necessitates determining the type of termite. There are three types, each of which has four castes within its colonies. Termites' appearance is determined by the type and the caste of the insect while their behavior depends on the surroundings.

Let’s determine how big termites are for a more in-depth understanding of these pests. Are you interested in comparing the size of other animals? Then check out how big are bed bugs and how do animals hibernate?

How big are termites compared to other insects?

Termites resemble other species like flying ants. In terms of size, a termite can be a quarter to an inch long. They are the same size range as an ant while being bigger than similar-looking beetles and bees.

The termite is commonly confused with flying ants. The flying ant or carpenter ant looks remarkably like flying termites. The differences lie in the wing and antennae type. Flying termites have straight antennae, while carpenter ants have bent antennae. The size range of the two species is similar, falling within 1 in (2.5 cm).

When it comes to other insects, termites can be bigger in size. For example, powderpost beetles can be at least 0.25 in (0.63 cm) size. Acrobat ants are 0.12 in (0.32 cm) in size. Carpenter beetles are similar in size to termites.

However, while it is easy to spot adult termites, it is impossible to spot larvae as they are quite small. The same is true for termite eggs. You need to have a trained eye to find the eggs and larvae.

Getting Rid Of Termites

A termite infestation can be devastating for your property. These pests can do permanent damage to your wooden interiors. The pests can be found in the soil, wood, and walls of your property. The best way to get rid of termites is to call pest control services.

Signs of termites in your home include hollow wood, mud tubes in soil or walls, and damaged wood. Once you suspect that you have something of a termite infestation, you will have to find out the type.

Are these new colonies or old colonies? Termites with wings are a sign of mature colonies. Could it be a drywood termite or a subterranean termite colony?

The best way to get rid of termites is prevention.

Free your home from termites by avoiding any items made of wood that are in direct contact with the ground, and free your home from moisture.

Call pest control to inspect your home regularly for termite larvae and larvae of any other insects.

Winged termites (alates) on the ground

How to identify termites?

Did you just spot an ant, or was it a termite? Identification of termites is easier when you have an understanding of the species.

Termites are insects, and because their body structures are similar, they resemble a variety of other insects. These include flying ants, carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, and acrobat ants. Termites typically can be classified into three types, dampwood termites, subterranean termites, and drywood termites.

Dampwood or rotten-wood termites love moist areas. These termites live closer to the ground and are less likely to be found in house wood. Their colonies do not have workers. The dampwood termite swarmers can be as long as 0.98 in (2.5 cm), making them the largest type.

You can identify the subterranean termite with their cream to dark brown-colored bodies. They can be 0.25 in (0.63 cm) in long in length. They nest underground, but they can nest in moist spaces above the ground. Subterranean termites do so by building mud tubes. Additionally, subterranean termites only consume softwood.

Drywood termites are the species of termites that infest homes. Their colonies can be as large as 2,500 termites.

They also do not have workers; instead, they have juvenile termites who are responsible for the responsibilities of a worker. The drywood termite has larger mouthparts. This species of termites size can be up to 0.47 in (1.2 cm) long and have two pairs of wings.

The fourth type of termite called Formosan termites looks like other termite species. The Formosan termites typically have oblong heads and are an inch long. The soldiers will release a white liquid when the colony is disturbed. The Formosan termite swarmers have small hairs on their wings.

Physical Appearance Of Termites

The physical appearance of a termite is determined not only by the termite type but also by the termite caste. This includes length, color, body type, and other related physical differences.

Belonging to the insect family, termites look like most insects. They have a pair of antennas, a segmented portion (head, body, and thorax), and six legs.

Termites have either straight antennae or bent antennae. The antennae are not smooth and resemble a small pile of balls stacked together. Two legs are attached to the thorax, while the rest of the four legs are attached to the thorax.

Termites also have castes. This caste system also plays a role in physical appearance. The termite caste system consists of, workers, swarmers, soldiers, and finally, the queen.

In a colony, the largest population is made up of worker termites. The worker termites can be identified by their slim and translucent body. Their heads are smaller than the other part of their bodies, which gives them an appearance that resembles a water droplet.

As the name suggests, soldiers are the defense line in colonies. If something disrupts a termite colony, it is this species of first visible termites. Concerning looks, the soldiers have dark brown-colored heads with brown and powerful mandibles.

Swarmers or alates are a sign of a mature termite colony. They are male and female reproductives that queens produce at a stage when the nest matures. This is called the alate stage, where the reproductives and the queen mate.

Swarmers come in different colors, but the most identifiable physical trait of this species is its sets of wings. The wings tend to dwarf the bodies of the alates. Because of the swarmer's wings, the length of this species tends to be typically 0.38 in (0.95 cm) long.

Lastly, the termite queen is huge when compared to other termites in the colony. While her head and thorax are normal-sized, the abdomen can be one inch long. Two lines in dark brown color can be spotted on the queen's abdomen that help identify the queen.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for how big are termites? Then why not take a look at how big are hummingbird eggs or how do dolphi

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Written by Rajnandini Roychoudhury

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

Rajnandini Roychoudhury picture

Rajnandini RoychoudhuryBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Master of Arts specializing in English

With a Master of Arts in English, Rajnandini has pursued her passion for the arts and has become an experienced content writer. She has worked with companies such as Writer's Zone and has had her writing skills recognized by publications such as The Telegraph. Rajnandini is also trilingual and enjoys various hobbies such as music, movies, travel, philanthropy, writing her blog, and reading classic British literature. 

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Fact-checked by Pratiti Nath

Bachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology, Masters of Science specializing in Biotechnology

Pratiti Nath picture

Pratiti NathBachelor of Science specializing in Microbiology, Masters of Science specializing in Biotechnology

A Master's in Biotechnology from Presidency University and a Bachelor's in Microbiology from Calcutta University. Pratiti holds expertise in writing science and healthcare articles, and their inputs and feedback help writers create insightful content. They have interests in heritage, history, and climate change issues and have written articles for various websites across multiple subjects. Their experience also includes working with eco-friendly startups and climate-related NGOs.

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