Southern CA is home to Drywood, Subterranean and Formosan Termites
1) Drywood Termites
The most prevalent termite species in Southern California, especially in beach communities, is the drywood termite species. Drywood termites live in garages, attics and the walls of a structure and create what entomologists refer to as “galleries” (or nests) in the wood members of a structure. Drywood termites enter the wood they will make their dinner usually on sunny days in the late summer or fall. They come in through exposed wood, vents, little cracks and knotholes in the wood. They also live in and feast on utility poles, dead trees and stored lumber.
2) Subterranean Termites
Subterranean termites invite themselves into homes at cracks in the foundation or anywhere there is wood in contact with soil, eating through decks and siding to form their nests in the moist soil. Subterraneans make tunnels called “mud tubes” the diameter of a pencil up the side of concrete walls or cinderblocks. In these tubes they move from the soil to the structure without exposing themselves to the sun, tunneling their way underground to get to the wood. Subterranean termites are far more destructive than drywood termites, so it is wise to take quick action in the case of a subterranean termite infestation.
3) Formosan Termites
The Formosan subterranean termite is often nicknamed the super-termite because of its destructive habits. This is because of the large size of its colonies, and the termites’ ability to consume wood at a rapid rate. A single colony may contain several million (compared with several hundred thousand termites for other subterranean termite species) that forage up to 300 feet in soil. A mature Formosan colony can consume as much as 13 ounces of wood a day and severely damage a structure in as little as 3 months. Because of its population size and foraging range, the presence of colonies poses serious threats to nearby structures.
Once established, Formosan termites have never been eradicated from an area.
Until recently, we Southern Californians have escaped the wrath of the destructive and aggressive Formosan termite species. They are typically found in the Southeastern U.S. and Hawaii; however, entomologists have discovered Formosans in a few homes in the San Diego suburb of La Mesa. Laurie Jo Jensen, an Entomologist trained at the California State Polytechnic University in Pomona (and The Termite Guy’s very own Entomologist!) said that “although the Formosans aren’t headed to Southern California, if the San Diego infestation spreads much further, it could be a major problem.”