Are All Termites Subterranean?


The quick answer is no. Not all termites are subterranean.


In Australia, there are over 300 species of termites and subterranean termites are only one of them. Also known as white-ants, subterranean termites are highly destructive. Albeit living primarily in the ground, they can cause damage to major structural timbers in your home as soon as they find the chance to get inside.


Recent industry surveys reveal that about one-third of all unprotected properties in Australia are subject to termite infestation. The increased change in the type of chemicals allowed to be used in building construction materials has reduced protection against termite entry.

In this article, let’s learn more about subterranean termites and the things you should do to remove them.


How to Identify Subterranean Termites


There are many ways to identify a subterranean termite. Look through the following details to know whether the pests in your home are subterranean termites or not.

  • Color – white to dark brown
  • Legs – 6 millimeters
  • Shape – long, narrow, and oval
  • Size – 1/8 inches long
  • Head – With an antenna
  • Body – Elongate body shape with wings


Different Types of Termites Found in Australia


There are various types or castes of subterranean termites in Australia. They all have different appearances and ranks like reproductive, workers, and soldiers.

Reproductive – The reproductive include king, queens, and alates. They are vital for the colony’s growth because they reproduce millions of other termites and are more active during the spring season.



  • Alates – They are also known as the swarmers or winged termites, which fly to look for spots they can reside. But once they found the perfect spot on the ground to feed, they shared their wings. Their bodies measure about ¼ to ½ inch in length.
  • Workers – Unlike alates, workers and soldiers do not have wings. Workers are about ¼ inches or less in length. They have smaller jaws that help them chew away at wood and move materials.
  • Soldiers – Soldiers have large mandibles and rectangular-shaped heads. Their bodies are flat and wide. Compared with workers, soldiers have a creamy white color while the workers are more brownish.


Subterranean termites can cause the most damage to all species because they can build distinctive tunnels to reach food sources and protect themselves from open air. They can eat wood 24/7. Over time, subterranean termites can damage a building structure causing a total collapse. Note though that subterranean termites don’t eat hardwood and dry woods. They are more attracted to softwoods, decaying woods, and wherever there is moisture in your house.


Different Types of Termites


  • Mastotermes (or Giant Termite)

    This species is commonly found north of the Tropic of Capricorn but disappears during the rainy season. They are large and are often referred to as “giant termites” because of their size. They are usually found in the bases of trees but can invade nearby structures with softwoods or decaying woods. Female Mastotermes can create hundreds of colonies in a week, allowing them to multiply into millions of termites in just a short perio

  • Cryptotermes (or West Indian Dry-Wood Termite)This is the most common termite in Australia that can survive even in small pieces of timer. They have low water requirements and can live in wooden houses without being detected. Damages caused by the Cryptotermes are only discovered too late.





This is another type of subterranean termite that lives in trees, patios, and tree stumps. Since they love warm and humid areas, they can also notice them in the ground below a fireplace foundation. If these termites find food sources in your home, they can tunnel their way in and empty your structure in just a short time.




Microcerotermes are types of termites found in coastal Queensland that build arboreal nests on tree trunks. This termite is located in coastal Queensland. A unique characteristic of these pests is their ability to build arboreal nests on posts. They also create mounds under and above the ground. Their homes look more like that of a mystic dwarf when the colonies get bigger.


Amitetermes (Compass Termite)


Also known as Darwin, these termites can reach up to 3-4 meters above the ground. The most unique feature of this species is that their nests have sophisticated temperature control, which helps them stay warm during cold weather days.




This type of termite mainly feeds on decaying wood while some close relatives only eat grass. They don’t pose a risk until they find a decaying structure in your home. But once they find a way to your home, they can further erode the structure which will require you to make necessary repairs.


Termites can be found on ground mounds, arboreal mounds, pole nests, subterranean nests, and tree wood nests. Drywood termites can easily get inside your home without you noticing it. So, if you see the slightest sign of termites, you must speculate right away. A single termite flying in your home could be a sign that a more severe problem is lurking around the unseen corners of your home.