Although both animals are insects that feed on wood, what is commonly referred to as xylophagous insects, they actually belong to very different groups. While termites are social insects of the order of the Isopods, woodworm is a solitary insect belonging to the order of the Coleoptera, that is, the group of beetles.
Differentiating Termites from the woodworm is easy
Differentiating termites from woodworm is very easy since they are morphologically very different insects. Termites are six-legged individuals with a well-defined head, a pair of antennae, with wings or not, and a whitish color. Woodworm, on the other hand, is the name by which the larval stage of several wood-eating beetle species is known. In this case, only the larvae consume wood, therefore, it is the larval stage of these insects that will be found inside the infected wood. These larvae with an arched body and marked rings can be easily differentiated from termites by the fact that they do not have legs or antennae.
Differences in your life cycle
Another basic difference between termites and woodworm is found in the type of development presented by their respective juvenile phases. The termites have a development of the hemimetábolo type, also known as incomplete indirect development. The insects with hemimetábolo development present a development marked by different stages of growth, so that the eggs appear nymphs that will be developed in different phases to reach the stage of imago or adult stage.
On the other hand, the xylophagous beetles present a type of holometabolous or complete indirect development, in which the shape that appears after the hatching of the eggs is a larva that anatomically is very different from the adult individual, and that presents a stage of development more or less long (in some cases it can be up to 12 years), followed by a pupal or chrysalis phase that will end with the appearance of the adult individual.
Differences between an infestation of woodworm and one of Termites
Knowing if a wood structure is affected by termites or woodworm is complicated because both termites and woodworm do not usually go outside, which often goes unnoticed. Even so, there are different signs that can allow us to detect their presence.
Signs of Termite infestation
In the case of termites, the presence of winged termites or simply of wings can indicate their presence in the vicinity, and is one of the main signs of infestation. In addition, these insects do not like sunlight, so subterranean termite species build galleries in the form of mud tubes to protect themselves from the sun on their way to the wood they feed on. These galleries are located vertically, are usually found on walls or beams, and are a clear sign of infestation by subterranean termites. In addition, if you open the galleries with your finger you can find worker termites traveling from the nest to the wood or vice versa.
In the case of infestation by termites of dry wood (they make the nest inside the wood they feed on), there is never the presence of galleries, but there are small holes in the wood. These orifices are made by the workers to throw the excrements abroad, or so that the winged forms can leave the nest and make the nuptial flight. Thus, the presence of excrement in the soil or near the wood is a clear sign of infestation by dry wood termites.
Signs of woodworm infestation
In the case of woodworm, the main sign of infestation is the presence of piles of sawdust near the affected structures, which depending on the species of woodworm can be very fine (such as talcum powder) or thicker and more cylindrical In addition, the presence of holes in the surface of the wood is also very characteristic. These holes are made by the adult forms when they leave the wood after the hatching of the pupa. The difference between the holes in the infected wood caused by the woodworm and the holes made by termites, is that in the case of woodworm these holes will be clearly open and always accompanied by sawdust, while in the case of termites, the holes will be covered with mud (since they are covered once they have been used to throw the excrement) and without the remains of sawdust.