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Can you help me identify and "diagnose" these small, white, ant-like bugs?

There are red wood mulch chips around the base of a tree in my front yard. I pushed some around with my shoe, and was a bit surprised to see a bunch of little bugs like this.

Some kind of ant? Some kind of termites? Should I be worried, or leave them be?

Their fate is in your hands.

enter image description here

  • 2
    They are almost certainly worker termites of some species. The workers are the ones that actually do all the damage and eat wood, so it makes sense that you are seeing them in the chip pile. The rest of the colony is probably nearby underground. Use "worker termite" keywords in google for some more images if you want to be sure. You'll probably want to call an exterminator; you don't want these guys in your house. – Jason C Mar 29 '15 at 5:09
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I can't be certain with the picture quality but based on their location in the wood chips and their appearance I'm going to say you have termites. Certainly get rid of them and/or call a bug inspector to verify.

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How close is this tree to your home? Is this tree old or not doing well? I would NOT DIY for this. You should have a professional come out and go through your home. They know how to look for termites. So much damage can happen to structures before one notices that all structures should be visually examined more often. This is a good excuse to check your home. Make sure your pesticide applicator is licensed and insured! Have them show you the licenses and documents. Check out your own homeowner's insurance. Make sure you have termite damage clauses first before you make an appointment with termite exterminator. Try not to do a non-specific treatment where ALL insects are killed. I've not much experience with termite pesticides even though I was a commercial pesticide applicator. Well, I have used very little pesticide as the main thing pesticide applicators are taught is to prevent the need to ever have to use them. Here is a pretty good link with pictures that match what you are looking at. Good luck! Termite control

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