Subterranean Termites - What Are They?

Blog Post Image
Real Estate

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean Termites live in tunnels and caverns in the ground and even under the house.  They live in colonies made up of Queen King, workers and soldiers. The Queen is larger than the King and she is the head of the colony. Although she lays eggs and grows the colony by even thousands of termites a year, reproducer termites have the job of growing and starting new colonies. The swarmers grow wings and fly to new areas to start new colonies. This means that you cannot treat once for termites, you have to check annually to ensure that your home is free from termites. It is worth checking furniture in your home and on your porch for possible infestations.

Termite Food Source

Subterranean Termites work in nature is to accelerate the decay of fallen trees on the forest floor. They consider the house a fallen tree and they will break it down slowly over many years. Any wood debris close to the ground or on the ground is considered a termite food source. They thrive in damp conditions and their food choice is untreated wood. Termites build brown tunnels on the foundation as a means to cover themselves so that they can get to untreated wood above without being noticed.

  Subterranean Termite Mud Tunnels

Identifying Subterranean Termite Activity

These are some of the telltale signs of termite invasions and a reason for you to have further investigation done

  • faded paint color
  • sagging drywall
  • hollow sounding wood
  • pinpricks in the drywall
  • uneven wooden floors
  • loose floor or wall tiles 
  • squeaky floor boards
  • damaged wood
  • windows that will not open or seem jammed
  • small salt and pepper like debris
  • mud tunnels
  • sagging floor boards
  • damaged wood with pinpoint holes in it
  • flaking paint
  • decaying window sills and frames
  • discarded wings from swarming termites
  • damp timber and water infused wood surfaces
  • debris around the home and in the crawl space
  • cracked foundations

Subterranean Termite Eradication

It is imperative to have your property inspected for termite activity by a professional. They know exactly what to look for. It is more important to have these pests exterminated and the wood and surrounding areas treated. This is one job that should not be tackled by a homeowner - it needs to be taken care of by a professional pest control service. It is a good idea to have it managed over the next few years. It is a good idea to get onto an annual inspection and be sure your home does not become termite food.

Pre-treated Timber

Most newer homes are built using pre-treated timber. This means that the wood is treated with chemicals and resists the ability to rot for a longer period of time.

It doesn't mean that your home will not become termite food, it means that it will take longer. The termites can ultimately build there mud tube over the surface of the pretreated wood and continue on to untreated wood areas.


It is truly important to protect your home from any infestation or subterranean and other termites. They may take a number of years to become apparent, however having an annual inspection is important and can save you money in the long term. Homes are a growing asset but need to maintained. Add an annual termite inspection to your list of things to do.

If you are considering buying or selling your home it is vital to have a home inspection done and ask for a termite inspection too. It may cost a little more but as you can see, it's worth having one done. 

Susan Johnson is a REALTOR® in the Charlotte | Lake Norman and SC areas surrounding Charlotte. As an experienced agent Susan will be able to assist you with purchasing and selling your property. Local knowledge is important when purchasing a home and Susan is local and has a wealth of expertise to guide you. Susan has won multiple awards and is a member of her local chamber of commerce. Call or text Susan 704-651-9023 or email

The photographs and some of this information is accredited to Lee Floyd from Race City Inspections  in the Greater Charlotte NC area. Lee can be contacted directly on 704-315-9284 or via email at