Termites can pose a serious risk to the structure and foundation of your home. The presence of termite larvae in particular may indicate if the building is infested or not. Termite larvae can be identified by their shape, color, and size. They are often found with worker termites deep within termite colonies. That said, they can mistaken for other insects, so it is important to understand the features and qualities of this particular pest.
Inspect their shape. Larvae have soft bodies instead of a hard, outer shell. They have a distinct head from the rest of their body as well as six legs. Their antennae are straight.
- Termite larvae tend to look extremely similar to worker and nymph termites, except for their size. Larvae are much smaller than workers and nymphs.
- Termites may resemble ants, but where ants’ bodies have a narrow waist, termites’ bodies are smooth and straight. Termites also have straight antennae where ants have bent antennae.
Examine their color. Termite larvae tend to be white and almost translucent in their color. Keep in mind that older worker and nymph termites also have similar pale coloring, so color alone cannot determine if it is a larva or not.
- If they have pale, white bodies but darker heads, they may be soldier termites. These are adult termites.
- If they have a darker color, such as brown or black, they may be booklice or ants instead. If they have wings, they may be reproductive termites.
Measure them. Most termite larvae are less than 1/10 of an inch (2.5 mm) long. In comparison, an adult worker termite is usually around ¼ inch (6.4 mm) long. Some reproductive termites, known as alates, can grow to be half an inch (13 mm) large, but if the insect is larger than this, they may not be a termite at all.
- Termite larvae are about the same size as the eggs they emerge from. These eggs are very small and white. They may be difficult to find, as they are kept deep within the colony. That said, if you find some termites near a pile of eggs, you can compare the size. If they’re roughly the same size, you’ve found larvae.
Identify adult termites. If you find mature termites, there are probably larvae somewhere in the colony. While there are a few different types of adult termite, you can typically identify them by their pale, soft bodies. Worker and nymph termites look like larger versions of the larvae while soldiers have a dark, hardened head. Only the reproductive termites that lay eggs have wings.
Inspect areas where termites live. While you may need a professional exterminator to find most termites, you can do a basic check inspection to see if you can notice any signs of infestation. Start by inspecting window sills, window and door frames, support beams, and places where concrete structures join wooden ones. You should also check in the basement, in crawl spaces, and under the porch. Use a flashlight to peer into cracks and dark spaces.
- Note that termites often live deep within the walls, and they can infest a home for years without being noticed. Just because there are no external signs of termites does not mean that you do not have them.
Listen to the walls. Using a screwdriver, gently tap the wood or surface of a wall. Listen for any hollow or rustling noises coming from inside the wood. This may indicate that there is something living inside the wood.
Break open mud tubes. Termites may build mud tubes to travel between areas of their colony. These may look like branches or lines of mud crawling up the wall or foundation. You can break a tube open to see if there are any termites inside. Note that if a tube is empty, it may still mean that there are termites elsewhere in the building.
Hire an exterminator. Termites can live deep within a structure, and they often keep their larvae within the most protected parts of their nest. To measure the extent of the problem, you should consult with a professional pest control company. They will be able to tell you if you have termites or another pest. They can also identify the larvae for you.
- When in doubt, the best way to know what type of larva or insect is infesting your home is to catch a few in a glass jar. Show them to an exterminator or local pest expert.