Subterranean termites can measure up to 1/4 inch long and consist of a colony: the worker which does the damage to the wood, has no wings and is light in color; the soldier has a longer head with mandibles and protects the colony; primary reproductives are mostly seen by homeowners that have wings and are darker than the others. The reproductives are referred to as Swarmers and are commonly confused with ants. Subterranean termites usually live under ground in a colony that can reach up to one million members. They depend on moisture, the workers build mud tubes to structural wood where they then eat the wood and take it back to the colony to share. Sometimes mud tubes can be seen in the crawlspaces of homes, going up foundation walls or pier blocks.
Drywood termites can measure 1/2 inch long with no worker needed in the colony. They create colonies inside of wood up to 3000 members and need very little moisture to survive. These termites eat across the grain on the inside of the wood and create hollow chambers inside the wood called galleries. This termite can live inside of the wood. The first signs of an infestation are Swarmers, or the accumulation of fecal pellets below the (kick out) holes of the gallery.
Dampwood termite workers are 1/8 to 1/3 of an inch long and are a white-to-cream color with dark abdomens. Colonies could reach up to 4000 individuals. Dampwood termites do not require contact with the soil but, the wood they infest must have high moisture content. They will infest almost any kind of wood and tolerate a very high-level of moisture.
Wood Boring Beetle (Powderpost)
Powderpost beetles can measure 1/8 to 1/4 inch long and have a hood like top that hides the head. They attack lumber, cabinets, and furniture but, tend to follow the grain of the wood leaving a fine powder behind. They reinfest lumber, and the females lay eggs in the wood from which they emerge. Over generations of infestation in a home, serious structural damage can occur. Often an infestation can be detected in wood with multiple small exit holes and/or an accumulation of very fine powder like frass.
Carpenter ants are the largest ants found in the region from 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch. Often they are black or dark brown, although some species are lighter colored and may have a red thorax. The thorax is distinctly rounded, without indention and there is only one node between the abdomen and the thorax. The most distinct habitat for most carpenter ants is their nesting in wood. Galleries are excavated and the ants pile course sawdust near the nest openings. Often the sawdust is also mixed with insect fragments, unlike termites, carpenter ants do not eat wood and instead scavenge on dead insects, insect honeydew, and other materials.