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Termite Facts (for eastern subterranean termites or Formosan termites)

  • Termites are one of the few animals able to utilize wood/cellulose as a food source.
  • Termites have symbiotic protozoa and other microbes in their gut that digest cellulose.
  • Eastern subterranean termites are native termites that occur throughout the eastern United States.
  • Eastern subterranean termites occur in all 82 counties of Mississippi.
  • Mature eastern subterranean termite colonies contain around 50,000 to 200,000+ termites.
  • Formosan termites are non-native termites, first detected in Mississippi in 1984.
  • Formosan termites are currently known to occur in 25 counties in Mississippi.
  • Formosan termite colonies can contain more than one million termites, but are usually smaller.
  • Unlike ants and bees, termite workers may be either male or female.
  • Male reproductive termites are known as kings.
  • Unlike ants and bees, king termites live inside the colony with the queen.
  • Primary termite queens and kings may live 10 to 15 years or longer.
  • An established termite queen may lay more than 1000 eggs per day.
  • Older termite colonies may also contain secondary and tertiary reproductive termites.
  • Total egg production of secondary and tertiary reproductives may exceed that of the queen.
  • Eastern subterranean termites are beneficial to southern forests, helping decompose dead trees.
  • Termite workers do not have eyes; they are sightless.
  • Termites reproduce by producing winged reproductive termites, known as swarmers.
  • Swarmers leave the parent colony, find a mate, and attempt to start a new colony elsewhere.
  • Swarmers shed their wings shortly after swarming.
  • It takes a termite colony around five years or more to grow large enough to produce swarmers.
  • Fire ants readily prey on termite swarmers attempting to found new colonies.
  • Termites forage primarily in the top six to twelve inches of soil.
  • Termites forage randomly by tunneling through soil and over stone until they encounter wood.
  • Once they encounter a food source, workers recruit others to the source and begin feeding.
  • Older termite colonies do not have a single, central nest.
  • A mature termite colony will have many different “nest sites” (places where eggs are laid).
  • An average suburban landscape will contain several different termite colonies (up to 25/acre).
  • Finding eastern subterranean termite swarmers indoors is a sure sign the building is infested.
  • Buildings that are not properly protected from termites will become infested by termites.

Dr. Blake Layton, Extension Entomology Specialist
Department of Entomology, Mississippi State University             
Phone: 662-325-2960

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Publication Number: P2568


A man stands outside a structure.
Filed Under: Termites September 29, 2022

The word “termite” strikes fear in the hearts of homeowners because this insect is the most economically damaging pest in Mississippi, is very common and requires constant vigilance. Blake Layton, entomologist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said the cost of termites is so large that it is hard to pin down.

Filed Under: Insects, Termites January 20, 2022

Can you tell the difference between a termite and an ant? Termites and ants share a number of similar physical characteristics, and it can be hard to distinguish between the two at first glance. Since termites can be active long before they are properly identified, mistaking them for ants could be a costly error!

Several worker eastern subterranean termites eat a piece of dead wood.
Filed Under: Termites, Insects-Home Lawns April 2, 2019

Termites are probably not something you consider when you are gardening. But many landscaping tasks, including digging and mulching, can put your home at risk for termite damage. (Photo by Blake Layton)

A paper wasp on a multi-cell nest.
Filed Under: Insects-Crop Pests, Insects-Forage Pests, Fire Ants, Household Insects, Insect Identification, Termites, Insects-Home Lawns, Insects-Pests July 31, 2018

Mississippi has an abundance of bugs, especially in the warmer months. We are all familiar with mosquitoes, bumblebees, and house flies. But I bet there are bugs around your house and yard that you can’t identify. (Photo by Blake Layton)

A group of more than a dozen people in hard hats break ground with shovels.
Filed Under: Pesticide Applicator Certification, Termites April 10, 2018

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Officials with the Mississippi State University Extension Service broke ground on a termite application training facility alongside pest control industry sponsors during a ceremony April 6.

The Termite Technician Training Facility, or T3F, will be located near the Mississippi Horse Park in Starkville and is scheduled to be completed in early 2019.

Success Stories

Nine men and women stand in front of a metal building.
Insects, Termites, Lawn and Garden, Insects-Pests
Volume 5 Number 2

A dream of the Mississippi Pest Control Association and the Mississippi State University Extension Service is coming true after more than 20 years, thanks to a generous donation by one of Mississippi’s oldest pest-control companies.


Mulch and Termites - MSU Extension Service
Extension Stories

Mulch and Termites

Monday, April 24, 2017 - 11:45am


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Portrait of Dr. Blake Layton, Jr.
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