Everyone knows at least one thing about termites; they eat wood. Different termite species thrive in different climates and eat different types of food, but all termites need four things to survive; food, shelter, moisture and optimal temperature. The bad news, all homes, regardless of construction type, can provide these ideal conditions for termites to thrive.
The most abundant species in Southern California, more in beach communities, is the drywood termite species. These termites live in garages, attics and the walls of structures. They will create “galleries” that are like nests in the wood of a structure. Late summer and fall is the time of year these termites will find the wood that will become their dinner. They make their way in through exposed wood, vents, little cracks and knotholes in the wood. They also find dead trees, stored lumber and utility poles great places to feast for however long they are permitted to.
Subterranean termites will come into homes through cracks in the foundation or any area where wood is in contact with soil. They will eat their way through decks and siding to build nests in soil that is moist. These termites create mud tubes that measure the diameter of a pencil. These tubes can be found on concrete walls or blocks. These tubes allow them to move from the soil to the structure while staying shielded from the sun and allow them to tunnel under the ground to get to the wood. Subterranean termites are much more destructive than drywood termites. For this reason, they must be taken care of soon as they are discovered.
The Formosan subterranean termite is also known as the super-termite because of just how destructive they can be. The reason they are so destructive is due to how large their colonies can get. Another reason is how quickly they can consume wood. Just one colony can have several million termites. Compare this to several hundred thousand termites that can be found in other subterranean termite species. These large colonies will forage up to 300 feet in the soil. An established Formosan colony can eat as much as 13 ounces a day and damage a structure in as little as 3 months. These termites become a huge problem because they threaten nearby structures with their population size and foraging range.
Signs of Termite Activity
Termites are so dangerous because they secretly hide and thrive in your home for a long time without any immediate signs of damage. While termites are secretive, they will leave warning signs. Indications that you may be dealing with termites include wood that sounds hollow if it’s tapped on, paint that is cracked or bubbling, mud tubes on exterior walls or in crawlspaces, and a temporary swarm of winged insects in or around your home.