California harbors many different pests because of its location and warm, often moist environment. Commercial and residential properties often need to use preventative methods to prevent infestations by common, destructive organisms. In many cases, one of the most damaging is also one that is frequently found throughout the state: a termite. Usually, people won’t see a termite by itself. Instead, they travel in swarms and establish colonies in varying types of wood based on their species. Unfortunately, termites like to inhabit much of the wood used to construct residences, businesses, and other types of buildings. In California, if someone encounters a termite, it will be one of three types. The least common type is the dampwood termite, followed by the drywood termite and then the subterranean termite.
California remains part of Termite Infestation Probability Zones 1 and 2. Each one indicates that the chances of a building developing a termite infestation is moderate to severe, so home and business owners need to be careful throughout the state. The chances of discovering termites are higher in the south of the state, but this doesn’t mean the north is safe. After it rains, each type of termite swarms and finds a new location to create a colony during the summer and fall months. One of the best ways to avoid dealing with a termite infestation is to contact a pest control company to spray a preventative treatment around the exterior of a property.
Professional exterminators can tell the type of a termite by examining the appearance of their soldiers and swarmers. One notable feature about dampwood termites are that they don’t have any workers. Their termite colonies can be found in wood which is damp or decaying, and are usually located near the ground. Around buildings, this means that termites like to build their homes around the structure’s foundation, where there is a greater chance of water or rot. Dampwood termite soldiers and swarmers are larger than their equivalents in other types and are roughly 20-25mm long. The soldiers have large jaws and mandibles and their heads are greater in proportion to their body than in other termite categories. A drywood termite eats against the grain of wood and leaves behind sticky fecal pellets that stick to the entrances of their tunnels.
The next type of termite is the drywood termite. Like their name indicates, they prefer to form their colonies in and around wood which is not affected by moisture. Many of their colonies can be found on the upper levels of structures or in attics near the insulated roof. Their swarmers have two pairs of wings which usually break off before they die. These termite corpses are easy to identify by professionals and nonprofessionals alike. Their soldiers have the same large mandibles of the soldiers from other termite types. Unlike dampwood termites, a drywood termite absorbs most of the liquid from its fecal matter and leaves behind pellets which are dry and often fall away from their tunnels.
Finally, people around California are most likely going to encounter a colony of subterranean termites. This type of termite builds its colony underneath the ground. A subterranean termite eats with the grain and will often leave dirt near the entrances to its tunnels because they crawl out of the ground to eat. Their swarmers have wings but the workers and soldiers do not. Their soldiers have large mandibles, dark brown heads, and white bodies which make them more distinctive than other types of termite.
Despite this information, a termite colony is not easy to find. Although they eat wood, termites often carve their tunnels inside of wood where there aren’t visible. People might see the swarmers leave the colony when they reproduce, but most people will not be able to tell they have a termite infestation until significant damage is already present. If even one termite is found, it is often better to contact a team of trained professionals to ensure each termite is eradicated before the property suffers from severe structural damage.
Jose D. has been providing pest control solutions to North County San Diego residents since 2000!