4954 N. Shamrock Place, Tucson, AZ 85705

Western Subterranean Termite

Heterotermes aurerus

Western Subterranean Termite

Life Cycle

Gradual metamorphosis
Termites are social insects living in colonies with a caste system including reproductives, workers, and soldiers. Termites exchange pheromones to aid in colony communication and determining caste upon need. Completion of caste roles is essential to the survival of a colony. Winged forms leave an existing colony in a large mass. 3% survive and submerge back into the soil to begin developing a new colony. The queen deposits and cares for eggs. As colonies become established, workers forage for food and bring back and feed colony members through trophallaxis. Soldiers guard opening in the gallery and protect colony members from predators like ants. Secondary Reproductives help to care for eggs and egg production when colony mature. Workers make up most of the colony population but have the shortest span of up to 5 years. Queens have the longest life span living up to 25 years. Soldiers make up 2-5% of the colony population.


  • Diet: Wood, especially cellulose portion
  • Activity: Constantly active
  • Preferred Climate: Temperate climates
  • Defense: Soldiers defend, pheromone communication
  • Cautions: Can cause costly destruction to structures
  • Home Invasion: May see mud tunnels or tubes coming from the soil or inside structures going along walls or from the ceiling.  May also see clusters of wings lying on the ground indicating alates have recently submerged beneath the surface to begin a colony.

Helpful Hints

  • Eliminate moisture sources near the structure and check for leaky pipes regularly.
  • Keep untreated wood away from contacting structures.
  • Recommend regular pest control service plan.

Interesting Facts

Termites cause $4 billion in damage per year.


Termite populations can cause severe damage to homes but are not known to bite humans. Essentially termites will bite wood and attack other insects but not people.

Nesting Sites

Interconnected by a network of underground tunnels.