DRYWOOD TERMITE CONTROL
What to look for:
• Swarmers flying in autumn
• Wings broken off near window
• Pellets like coarse sawdust
• Blistering of paint’s surface
• Wood damage
Throughout Southern California and San Diego, the number one destroyer of homes is not fire or flood or earthquakes. It’s termites. It is believed that close to 75% of the buildings here in Southern California are host to at least one minor colony – and the majority of these are drywood termites (Incisitermes minor).
The swarming drywood termites will generally leave the colony between August and November, taking flight to search for new wood to conquer. Sometimes people might even misidentify a termite as a flying ant. The female emits a pheromone, or scent, to attract a male termite. Once they have found each other, the pair will enter a crack or crevice in a home and snap off their wings to make it easier to burrow. They gnaw a pear-shaped chamber and, once constructed, mate. The female lays eggs that will soon hatch into “nymphs.” It is these nymphs that do most of the burrowing damage as they work around the clock to establish the colony and aid the incubation of new termite eggs. A typical colony of drywood termites takes about four years to mature, eating wood and expanding throughout the structure. During this time, a small percentage will develop into soldiers and alates – the reproductive swarmers that will continue the cycle, flying off to expand the domain of the population.
The cycle then repeats annually, with the swarmers – often hundreds of them at a time – leaving the hidden galleries to establish their own colonies in a beam nearby.
The drywood termites are just like ants because they can easily enter your home through vents or cracks in trim, eaves, window frames, and exposed rafters. They will eat any cellulose material they find: structural timber, wooden furniture, even books. And since they attack wood from the inside out, you may never know what damage you’ve sustained until it’s too late.
TERMITE TIP: Keep piles of wood away from your house and foundation. Subterranean termites respond to wood piles like sharks respond to blood – voraciously. Also, painted wood resists termites. Repaint any flaking eaves, window casements, and facia boards.