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8 Things to Know About Termites in California

termites feeding

Termites cause the most property damage by a pest in the United States, causing over $5 billion worth of damage every year. In order to help prevent your home from joining that frightening number, we want to give you some information on what to look for in your home if you suspect termites. 

8 Things To Know About Termites in California: 

What Do Termites Look Like? 

Obviously, the best way to identify a termite infestation is to actually spot the termite. Although everyone has heard of termites, many people may not know precisely what they look like. Often confused for ants, there are a few key differences that you should take note of when attempting to self-diagnose a termite problem, including: 

  • Coloration - termites are often a lighter color than ants, ranging from a creamy white to a brownish color, rather than the darker browns and blacks typical of ants. 
  • Size - Termites are usually between ⅛ of an inch to 1 inch long. Of course this is the size of the most common termite caste, the queen of a colony is much larger, getting up to 6 inches in size with her massive belly. 
  • Body shape - this is where the primary difference can be seen. Termites have thick waists, versus the cinched waists of ants. They also have shorter legs and straight antennae as opposed to the bent antennae of ants. 
  • Wings - as you’ll see, termites don’t often have wings, but when they do they will have two pairs of wings, equal in length. On ants, their wing pairs are different lengths. 

What Are The Different Types Of Termites?

While there are around 45 different species of termite in the United States, they will generally fall into one of three categories. Their categorization depends mainly on their appearance, their nesting location, and their behavior. The three most common types of termites are: 

Subterranean Termites

The most common kind of termite, subterranean termites nest in soils all across the continental U.S. Being the builders of the biggest nests of all termite species and as a result, are the greatest cause of damage to homes and property. These termites will create mud tubes underneath your yard to find their way into their food source, the tasty wood of your home. 

Drywood Termites

Drywood termites, as the name suggests, love to make their homes within dead or dying dry wood, such as dead trees, structural timbers, or solid hardwood floors. They will do all they can to avoid soil, so you should be looking for them in and around your property. Usually larger than their subterranean cousins, luckily they tend to have smaller colonies, meaning that in general, they cause damage at a slower rate. Of course, this does not mean they don’t still present a great threat to your home. 

Formosan Termites

Formosan termites are without doubt the most threatening of termites. They are incredibly difficult to remove once embedded, due to the long pathways between their nest and their food source. They also have the ability to set up temporary shop in high food areas, like your home, and yet if you take out any nesting in your home, the primary nest remains. 

Do Termites Have Wings?

The simple answer to this is yes, termites have wings. Before you start imaging swarms of flying termites overrunning your home it is important to note that only certain castes in the termite colony have wings, and even then they only fly at specific times. The only termite caste which has wings in a colony is the alate nymphs, also known as termite swarmers. 

Signs of a Termite Infestation 

Thankfully, with the amount of damage that termites can cause, it is relatively easy to spot signs of an intense termite infestation as long as you know what you are looking for. The most common signs of a termite infestation include: 

  • Hollowed out wood - You might be able to hear it as you walk across it. 
  • Blisters in wooden flooring - Like little bubbles on your floor. 
  • Pellets or droppings - They will look similar to coffee grounds. 
  • Bodies or wings - They are roughly ant-sized. 
  • Mud Tubes - Tubing which you may find outside or in your crawlspace. 

Are Termites Dangerous to Humans?

While termites may pose a huge threat to your home, other than bringing the building down on top of you they pose little to no threat to you or your loved ones. They are not known to carry any harmful diseases that could be transmitted, nor do they show any wish to bite or sting people unless provoked. 

What Attracts Termites to My House?

Like many insects, the number one thing that termites are looking for is a food source. With wood being their primary food source, it makes homes look incredibly tasty from their point of view.  Termites also love moisture. Moisture in wood, damp spots in the home, and any cracks in the exterior. Termites are big fans of warm temperatures, making the spring, early summer and fall season your most at-risk periods for termites. Combine the heat and humidity together and it is easy to see why the south is the hotbed of termite activity in the U.S. 

How to Prevent Termites

Preventing termites is always preferable to having to remove termites, and will prove much cheaper in the long run. Top tips for preventing termites include: 

  • Keep outdoor plants away from the home - This includes tree branch growth. Making sure all shrubbery and leafage are not in contact with the home prevents easy transmission from your yard to your home of subterranean termites. 
  • Keep your foundations dry - Whether you’re on a crawlspace, basement, wood, or another type of foundation, ensuring that they remain moisture-free is key. After any periods of heavy rain or flash flooding, you should check for any persistent damp spots to identify any potential moisture issues. 
  • Regularly remove all yard debris - Make sure that any yard debris, from fallen leaves to mulch, is kept away from the home. This includes making sure that your guttering is cleaned regularly. 
  • Watch out for flying termites during swarming season - As stated flying termites are the breeders, so keeping them away from your home is key. If you start noticing them flying, keep your windows closed, lights off at night, and make sure there are no gaps in your home. 

How to Get Rid of Termites

If you’ve made it this far then likely you know a lot of this and just want to know how to get the pesky termites out of your home. While we would obviously recommend professional help, especially as there may already be severe termite damage in the home, there are some things you can do yourself: 

  • Termite products - There are many termite removal products on the market, and while they vary in effectiveness they will all help to kill termites. When it comes to products you have two main options: spot treatments and bait treatments.
  • Beneficial nematodes - A more natural solution to termites, these microscopic roundworms are parasites of termites, and will quickly kill them within a matter of days. 
  • Essential oils - There are some essential oils like orange oil and neem oil that can help to kill off termites in a variety of ways, either interrupting the shedding process or their egg-laying. 
  • Boric acid - Boric acid is a well-known method for killing off termites, as it shuts down their entire system. 

Hopefully, you have learned how to identify any termites and keep your home protected from a termite infestation. As always, we would recommend that you call the professionals at for all of your termite removal needs