Subterranean termites are social insects that live in societies whose members are mostly immature individuals. Their colonies, which can contain thousands to millions of termites, are formidable, even though each individual termite is soft-bodied and delicate.
In nature, subterranean termites are closely associated with the soil habitat where they tunnel to locate water and food (e.g., wood, fallen logs, and other cellulose-containing materials). Termites excavate galleries throughout their food as they consume it. They conceal their workings and can completely honeycomb wood by feeding along the grain and following the softer spring wood, leaving little more than a thin wooden exterior.
Subterranean termites construct above ground earthen runways (shelter tubes) that protect them from the drying effects of air as well as from natural enemies, such as ants. Termites are very susceptible to desiccation, and thus they are dependent on moisture sources.