Do termites bite? Symptoms, Risks, Treatments, and Removal
Termites are invertebrate insects that live in colonies and eat wood and other plant materials. Termite bites pose no risk to humans and are very rare. Termites are more dangerous to humans as they can damage wood in houses.
Termites live in dark and often damp areas. Termites are white and light brown in color and have straight antennae. Termite colonies can range from two to millions of insects. The queen and king are the largest termites in the colony and the workers are the smallest.
The different types of termites in the United States include:
- underground termites
- Wet wood termite
- Dry wood termite
They live in wood in houses or buildings or in natural areas such as forests. In the United States, they live in every state except Alaska. There are 2,600 species of termites worldwide.
Termites very rarely bite people. Although you may have termite infestations in your home, they are not looking for people or other living things such as parasites that feed on blood. Termites eat wood and other vegetable matter.
There are several types of termites in a colony. A termite with the potential to bite you is the soldier, but again, this is unlikely.
Soldiers have more developed and stronger mouthparts than worker termites to repel predators such as ants. Their heads are larger than worker termites and more brown than white. They have neither wings nor eyes.
A bite on your skin is more likely to be caused by another insect, such as:
Winged termites pose no threat to humans. Certain termites in a well-developed colony develop wings to swarm, mate, and form a new colony in warm weather. They have wings of equal size and straight antennae. They can be yellow or black. They don’t bite people.
Share on PinterestTermite bites are rare, but they have been reported to cause small red bumps on the skin. Brian Smith / Flickr
You are unlikely to notice a termite bite. The insects have very small jaws and it is uncommon for them to bite people or even animals.
It’s much more likely that another species of insect caused your bite. The symptoms of insect bites usually appear on your skin. Your skin may appear:
- colored reddish
- raised and swollen
If your symptoms worsen, don’t fade over time, or could be from a more dangerous insect, see a doctor for a diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Termites are not like some insects that carry potential diseases when they bite. Termite bites are rare and very mild due to the insect’s size and ability to bite.
They are prone to infection from insect bites or openings in the skin. Keep an eye on the bite area and call a doctor if you develop a fever or if the bite area looks or feels worse over time.
It is unlikely that your insect bite was from a termite, but if you’ve been around a termite nest and noticed bite symptoms, there are some general precautions you can take at home to treat it. Here are some general first aid tips for insect bites.
- Wash the bite area with soap and water.
- Apply a cold compress if you feel uncomfortable.
- Watch the area for changes, such as increased swelling or pain. You can use over-the-counter products like antihistamines for swelling or itching, or acetaminophen for pain.
See a doctor if you are not sure what type of insect bit you, if your symptoms worsen over time, or if you have signs of an infection such as a fever. Also, see an emergency doctor if you experience shortness of breath or feel dizzy or light-headed.
Although the health risks from a termite bite are very small, they are a very dangerous species for humans as they can destroy homes. A termite colony infestation in your home can cause structural damage. This can leave your home unsafe and require significant repairs.
Termites invade homes and other buildings and eat their way through the wood within the structure. This will hollow out the wood and make it unstable.
There are several ways to prevent and mitigate termite infestation:
- In the new building, build a barrier between a concrete foundation with a gap between the floor and the wood.
- Seal wooden surfaces in new buildings.
- Make sure your yard and the area around the foundation of your home have adequate drainage.
- Maintain the outside of your home and fill in any cracks or holes that appear on the outside.
- Make sure that water does not accumulate in or around your home.
- Cut back any plants that may be near openings in your home.
- Avoid stacking wood near your home.
- Investigate or hire an exterminator to regularly monitor your home for termites, looking for holes in the wood or the insects themselves.
You can treat termites by creating barriers to prevent them from entering your structure or by trapping them. You can try natural or chemical treatments.
Call a pest disposal expert to help you remove the termites from your home and prevent further damage. Some treatments involve applying chemicals throughout the home, while others treat the infestation themselves. You can use a combination of treatments.
Termites can return, so make sure you check for them regularly and try to keep the area around your home dry and sealed so that insects cannot get into your home.
A termite is unlikely to bite you. They feed on wood and live in dark environments. A noticeable insect bite is more likely to come from another insect. Monitor the insect bite and treat it with basic first aid. Call a doctor if your symptoms worsen over time.