Termites have a caste known as the soldier or king caste. This is similar to soldier bees or ants (all hive type insects have a similar social structure) whose sole purpose in life is to protect their colony. Their bodies are more suited for defending their termite colonies from invading enemy insects such ants than the worker termites.
These soldier or king termites often have a larger head and larger mandibles (jaws) than the worker termites and are not too difficult to tell apart. If you want to see an example of the different types of termites within a colony check out this wikipedia page on termites.
The short answer is “Yes!”
Termites CAN bite you or your pets… but it is unlikely that you will ever experience this.
If any type of termite could hurt you, this would be the one who could cause the most pain. Don’t worry though, for the most part termites don’t tend to bite people or pets. They prefer to stay in the dark recesses of the tunnels they make within wood and use their energy expanding their colonies and devouring the cellulose within wood and other plant material.
Besides the fact that they prefer to spend their time unseen in the shadows termites are also very slow little creatures. This would make it even more difficult for them to attack you or a pet. The only time termites can move fairly fast is when they grow wings during the adult stage of their life. These swarmers then take off in search for a new colony.
I have hear of people getting bitten by flying termites before but again, this is uncommon. These could be ants as well, since ants too sprout wings as they mature into their adult stage of life.
How Should I Cope With A Termite Bite?
Soldier termite biting a human finger.
If a termite does bite you, it would likely not feel a whole lot different than a mosquito bite or a very minute pinch.
In fact, you probably won’t even feel anything unless they happen to bite you in an area on your body where your skin is relatively thin (like the webs between your fingers.)
The irritation or pain should subside after a few days and you don’t really need to worry about catching a disease or getting an infection as their is no documented cases of this happening to humans from termite bites. There may be a slight burning since the mandibles of termites are coated with a type of saliva that helps to break down cellulose.
This saliva may cause some irritation or pain in certain people but most people say it just feels like a small pinch and the pain does not typically last long. You will likely get a tiny red spot that should go away within a day or two.
If the spot of the termite bite is irritating or bothering you try some hydro cortisone or other type of anti itching cream.
If it continues past one to two days you may want to see a doctor as this is unlikely a termite bite and could be from a type of harmful insect.
Do Winged Termites Bite People?
The most common type of termite that the average person will encounter is a winged termite or as they are sometimes called, termite swarmers. These are the reproductive termites that often seem to swarm through peoples windows just prior to a thunder storm. Or you may encounter them exiting a piece of wood from a tree while mowing the lawn or gardening.
This form of termite can tend to create some anxiety if you do not understand what the insect is. They are often confused with ants and understandably people think they may be a nuisance if entering a house. However, these termite swarmers typically do not live long (under 24 hours) and do NOT have the powerful mandibles that soldier termites have as discussed above.
Unless you provoke termite swarmers they will typically not harm you. Many people have had all kinds of flying termites land on them and not a single one caused them any harm. You can just lightly brush them off and if they did get into your home from the outside you can easily vacuum them up. If they came from inside your home (walls, trim, etc.) you should get a professional termite inspection conducted as soon as possible.
What Kinds of Termites Are Capable of Biting or Pinching Humans?
There are some larger species of termites such as the mastotermes or formosan termites who would be able to bite and possibly even draw a little blood. There are probably other species that I am not well acquainted with from other parts of our planet that could bite as well. If you know of any please let the rest of us know in the comments below.
If you think you got bitten by a termite you may want to do a double look and make sure it is not actually an ant. A lot of people mistake ants for termites and vice versa. This is understandable but most termites are some what of a creamy white color, and again they move pretty slow.
If I’m Not Being Bitten By Termites… What Is Biting Me?
Some other possibilities are lice, mites, fleas, or bedbugs. Sometimes these tiny pests can infest your home are remain mostly unseen, but if they start biting you… you are going to notice. They are a whole different issue though.
Check out the video below to get a good idea of what the different classes of termites look like
So can termites bite people? Yes, technically they can bite humans or animals or anything if they feel threatened.
Do termites bite people? No, it is extremely uncommon even though some people report it happening this is often misidentification of pests.
So at the end of the day, if you find termites in your home you don’t need to worry much about them munching on you or your pets. What you should be concerned about is the damage they can do to your home.
If you find these little “white ants” in or near your home, shed, wooden fence, etc. don’t hesitate to call a pest control professional to do an inspection and then find out what your options are for eliminating these bugs. Don’t let them go on unchecked because they will end up costing you thousands. The average price for termite treatment and repair of damages is over $8,000.
Frequently Asked Questions About Termite Bites
Are Termite Bites Dangerous?
Termite bites are not known for being dangerous to either humans or animals. At most they will typically leave a small red bump and may feel like a little pinch. They may itch for a few days although this is rare. Usuallytermite bites leave very few symptoms and they are not known for carrying any diseases or toxins.
If you symptoms are worse than this you were most likely bitten by some other type of insect for which it would be a good idea to see a Doctor rule out anything dangerous.
What Do Termite Bites Look Like?
Usually a bite from a termite will just leave a small red bump. Rarely the bump may swell a bit in people with sensitive skin. This skin may itch slightly although usually not and the bump should subside within 1 – 3 days.
Do Termites Sting? What About Flying Termites?
No, neither regular termites nor flying termites sting. They do not have the anatomical capability to sting you however they have powerful (for an insect) mandibles that they can pinch you with. Particularly the Soldier termites who are tasked with defending their colonies have the strongest jaws and can pinch the strongest.