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western subterranean termites (Reticulitermes hesperus)

Overhead view of 20+ termites in a group on a piece of rotting wood. The termites are all milky yellowish white in color, with honey brown splotches in their abdomens.

The western U.S. is home to two known native species of subterranean termites, Reticulitermes hesperus (shown here) and Reticulitermes tibialis. But a new analysis shows R. hesperus is likely a species complex of at least two distinct species, and at least five species Reticulitermes in all may be present in California. A better understanding of these separate subterranean termite species and their behaviors will be essential for effective management. (Photo by James Bailey via iNaturalist, CC BY-NC 4.0)

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