Termites are insects that mostly feed on dead plant material that is generally in the form of wood. With the majority of buildings in Southern California built from wood, termites have found an abundant food source in the structures of homes and other buildings.
If left to feed freely, termites can cause serious structural damage. They are the leading cause of home damage in Southern California far surpassing fires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters.
Although other types of insects, such as carpenter ants and powder post beetles, also destroy wood, the two most common wood-eating pests in the Southern California are drywood and subterranean termites.
Drywood termites live within wood itself and are capable of dispersing throughout an entire building, leaving piles of tiny fecal pellets behind. These pellets resemble coarse sawdust and can often be found near windowsills and other areas within the building.
When a drywood termite colony matures, winged male and female reproductive insects are produced. During the autumn months, these winged termites, also known as swarmers, leave their own colony to create new colonies, which are sometimes created within the same building.
Subterranean termites enter buildings from the soil beneath and can destroy buildings at about 80 times the rate of drywood termites.
Their colonies build large colonies underground composed of elaborate mud tunnels and chambers. Mud tunnels are also often built in the crawl spaces of buildings, creating a network of roads to and from food sources and the subterranean termite colony's home underground.
Subterranean termite colonies are much larger than drywood termites are and can contain up to 1 million members. The larger the size of the colonies, the greater the damage that the termites can inflict on buildings, and in less time.
Subterranean termites are highly organized into a caste system. The majority of subterranean termites are of the “worker” caste. The sole job of a worker subterranean termite is to consume cellulose material (e.g. wood) almost non-stop. Subterranean termites swarm in early spring.
Contact us in Coachella Valley, California, for more information about identifying drywood and subterranean termites.