Physical Characteristics

The Formosan subterranean termite workers look similar to native species of subterranean termite (e.g., Reticulitermes hesperus), but Formosan soldiers have distinctive orange-red teardrop-shaped heads with pincers, in contrast to the rectangular heads of the local subs. Another clue that you’ve got Formosan subs is when there are a large number of soldiers present. Formosan alates, or winged “swarmers,” have clear double wings of equal length, with pronounced black veins along the leading edge, and hairy wing coverings that become visible under a microscope.

Formosan Subterranean Termite


The Formosan termite is to termites what the red imported fire ant is to ants, or the Africanized honey bee is to bees – an invader similar to other insects in its order, except on steroids. These bad bugs, or a mature colony of them, can chew and digest up to 13 ounces of wood a day. It isn’t that they’re more voracious; it’s just that there are a lot more of them – several million in a colony, instead of the usual several hundred thousand. From one central nest underground they can radiate outward and do damage; it’s estimated that a colony of three million Formosan termites could consume 167 linear feet of pine two-by-four boards in one year, or 13 ounces of lumber a day. Fortunately for those of us on the west coast, Formosan subterranean termites have only been found in a San Diego suburb, and they haven’t spread elsewhere.


It takes expert knowledge to know where to look for termite activity, then analyze the findings and assess whether treatment is needed, and what kind of treatment will work to arrest any termite activity found. Clark Pest Control has highly trained termite specialists that can look over your property, then help you decide the best course of action.

Latin name: Coptotermes formosanus