Formosan Termites

C. formosanus

What Are Formosan Termites?

Formosan termites are a subterranean species of termite with three distinct castes: alates (or reproductive), soldiers and workers.

Often referred to as “super termites,” they are the most voracious, aggressive and devious of over 2,000 termite species known to science, chewing through wood, flooring and even wallpaper undetected.


Color: Creamy white to brown
Legs: 6
Shape:  Long, narrow and oval
Size: 1/2 inch in length
Antennae: Yes
Region:  Found in Hawaii, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, and California

What Do Formosan Termites Look Like?

Alates, or swarmers, are about 5/16 inch (14-15mm) in overall length, including their wings. Their bodies are pale yellow to brownish yellow in color. They have translucent wings that are densely covered with small hairs.

Formosan termite soldiers have heads that are rounded on the sides and tapered toward the front, whereas indigenous subterranean termites have rectangular heads. Their mandibles lack teeth.

How To Identify Formosan Termites

It’s essential to know which termite group is causing problems because each one is quite different biologically and, therefore, requires different methods of control. Formosan termites are very similar to other subterranean termite species, like Asian subterranean termites and eastern subterranean termites, so it’s best to contact a licensed pest control professional to help with proper identification.

It’s important to note that Formosan termite swarmers are often confused with flying ants, too. The best way to tell them apart is by looking at their waists, as termites have broad waists and flying ants have narrow ones. Termites also have straight antennae compared to bent antennae on flying ants. Lastly, termites have wings of equal size, while flying ants have bigger front wings. Watch this video for more advice on how to tell the difference between a termite and flying ant.

Infestation and Prevention

Signs of a Formosan Termite Infestation

There are a few red flags signaling a Formosan termite problem. The first sign that an area is infested with Formosans is the presence of swarmers, or winged reproductives.

Swarmers are often attracted to lights, so homeowners should keep an eye out for them (and their discarded wings) near windowsills, doors, lights and vents.

Formosan Termite Damage

Another sign of a Formosan termite infestation is damaged wood that sounds hollow when tapped. The wood often appears to have been eaten away along the grain pattern. To learn more about the signs of a termite infestation, click here.

How to Get Rid of Formosan Termites

Anyone suspecting a termite infestation should contact a licensed pest professional about Formosan termite control and treatment.