Arboreal Termite


Actual Size: Workers/soldiers 3 to 4 mm; Queens 30 to 60 mm

Characteristics: Soldiers have small brown bodies with a pointed beak. Workers have pale heads. The queen is much larger and has a yellow, long body.

Legs: 6

Antennae: Yes

Wings: Alates/swarmers have wings.

Habitat: Live in trees. Nests can be larger than a basketball.


  • Forage for food in rotting trees.
  • Build tunnels from nests down the tree, helping differentiate their nests from wasp nests.
  • A single colony can have up to thousands or millions of termites.

Arboreal Termites in Houston, TX

Arboreal termites are the most abundant tropical termite species. Arboreal termites generally make their nests in trees, but they have been known to nest in other structures made of concrete or metal. Similar to subterranean termites, arboreal termites live in colonies that can have as many as several million insects. They eat any material containing cellulose, including wood, cardboard, and paper.

Arboreal Termite Habitat

These termites are mostly in tropical climates. They live in trees and build nests that can be confused for wasps. Other species can build nests on the ground or even underground. The nests are built from digested wood and feces. When nests are built in trees, the arboreal termites can build tunnels covered in the same material down the side of the tree to the forest floor. Some nests contain thousands to millions of termites.

Arboreal Termite Behaviors, Threats, or Dangers

Arboreal termites have a unique defense mechanism. When the colony is under attack, the soldier termites will expel a chemical called nasute glue from their snouts. This liquid smells like turpentine and can be very irritating to the skin. This keeps anteaters and other predators at bay. The main concern for arboreal termites is when they build nests on trees in your property, or on the side of your home. To prevent or control an arboreal termite infestation, it’s important to enlist the help of a professional termite exterminator.