Do Termites Bite People and Pets?

You probably frequently associate termites as being hidden from view and quietly devouring the structure of your very home – and that assumption is correct as these insects use wood as their primary nutrition. Termites have virtually no interest in humans or pets as they feed on wood and organic matter, but that doesn’t mean they will not bite if provoked. Termites need nothing from humans or animals, except the wood in the structures of our homes.

Do termites bite?

Termites can bite both humans and pets, but this will only ever likely occur if the termite is protecting its colony from threats. Termite bites cause no diseases and should clear up in a matter of days.

Although termites will not go out of their way to bite humans or other animals, they can be dangerous in some ways to humans if they are colonizing inside of a home. If you discover termites in your home, the only way you could possibly be bitten is if you disturb the termites. King termites and soldiers are the two types of termites within a colony that would actively bite.

Are Termites Dangerous to Humans in Any Way?

It may be hard to believe, but termites can actually serve beneficial ecological purposes to our surrounding environment. The problem that comes with termites in our surroundings is that these insects can degrade a house from the inside out, costing people potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. There are also health risks that could potentially arise from a termite invasion.

Termites usually consist of thousands of members inside of one colony–a colony that resides inside of the wood structures of your home. The insects feed on cellulose that is found inside of wood and workers spend hours each day harvesting this compound from wood with shredding mandibles that extract the substance from wood. During this process, tiny particles of wood are released into the atmosphere of the home that appears as common dust.

This can be problematic for individuals who suffer from asthma or any other bronchial or respiratory ailments. HVAC and heating systems can also aggregate the dust and spread it evenly throughout your home. Allergic reactions from termite waste and saliva are also possible.

Apart from respiratory or allergic reactions, termites do not carry diseases and termites alone are not specifically harmful to humans or pets. If you do get bitten by a termite, wash the bite and apply an ointment. Apart from minimal treatment, the bit should subside in a few days.

What Do Termite Bites Look Like?

Although the instances are very rare as to if or when a termite will bite a human or animal, the insects bite if they are provoked or disturbed. A termite bite will likely not be initially painful, since the jaws of kings and soldiers are quite small. If a termite does bite, the bite will usually appear as a small, red circle.

The feel of the bite is similar to a pinch–since kings and soldiers have protruding pincers that would squeeze the skin to elicit pain. If you are bitten, the chances are that is was a soldier, which uses mandibles for defense and security of a colony. Termite bites can appear very similar to other insect bites, so it is important to establish that a termite colony is present in your home to be certain of a termite bite.

Take a look at what eats termites – their natural predators

Do Termites Make You Itch?

Termite bites can aggravate the skin, much like any other insect bite. Termites have a special kind of saliva that helps to break down wood and other organic matter, which can irritate the skin. This reaction to a foreign substance can cause allergic reactions to the bites and therefore cause itching.

As your bitten skin starts to heal, it will go through a period of itching. Try to avoid scratching your skin because it could make the symptoms worse. There are treatments available to reduce the itching sensation so that you don’t feel tempted to scratch at it.

Related Termite Questions:

How to Treat a Termite Bite

The good news is that the symptoms of termite bites will naturally go away on their own. Of course, the hard part is having to tolerate the annoying symptoms of those bites in the meantime. Fortunately, there are treatment methods that you can do to make this recovery process much less painful and irritating.

Hydrocortisone is a steroid cream that is available over-the-counter and online. It is the most recommended treatment for relieving the pain, itching, and burning that is associated with termite bites. You should only need to apply the cream for a couple of days before the symptoms totally clear up; the red sores will even go away faster as well.

Apart from anti-itch creams, you can rest assured that itchiness and the termite bite itself will clear up in a matter of days. If you are having an adverse allergic reaction to the bites, seeing a doctor is your best bet. Termite bites are very rare, but if bites do occur, simple everyday remedies are likely all that will be necessary.

See: Do termite foggers actually work?

Do Termites Bite Dogs and Pets?

Termites do not go out of their way to bites dogs, animals, and humans–but there is likely more of a risk of a dog or other pet being bitten than a human. Your pets typically roam around your home and yard much more than their human owners, in addition to this, their senses are more heightened than humans, which makes them able to sense anomalies in the house and yard.

Due to their proximity to areas that we seldom frequent, pets are likely to run across termites. Once they disturb a colony, kings and soldiers will likely bite in order to protect their colony. Much like humans, the bites are not inherently dangerous to pets. Treat your pets bites with anti-itch creams to prevent scratching and swelling and if the bite doesn’t subside, you may want to contact a veterinarian.

In Summary

Termites are incredibly productive insects that have benefits to the outside environment in spite of their feared reputation. Their reputation is earned, however, due to the massive amounts of destruction they can wage against our homes and structures. Termites eat through wood to extract the cellulose inside, which over time, actively degrades the structure of homes.

Although these insects are highly dangerous to your home, they are not dangerous to you. Termites will bite, but only if provoked or disturbed, which is rare. Termites can pose potentially adverse allergic reactions in some people as well as respiratory issues for sufferers of asthma or other ailments.

If you or your pet do happen to be bitten by a termite, the bite will typically appear red and oval in color and shape. Bites can potentially cause itchiness and allergic reactions. Anti-itch and swelling ointments are all that is generally needed when treating a termite bite. Termites may bite if provoked, but you can rest assured that the only danger that termites pose is to the wood structures inside of your home and surrounding wood structures and objects in your yard.

Recommended: Your Definitive DIY Pest Control Guide to Preventing and Getting Rid of Termites

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