Lower Azusa Road
Arcadia, CA 91006-5872
South Garfield Ave.
South Gate, CA 90280
are the different types of termites?
What are the different types of termites?
Over 2,300 species
of termites, most of them tropical, have been described
by entomologists. In the U.S. we have only four
groups of termites of economic importance: Subterranean,
Drywood, Dampwood, and Powderpost Termites. The
Subterranean and Drywood are the two types of termites
that cause damage to buildings in Southern California.
Termites live in the soil and must maintain
contact with the ground or some other moisture
source to survive. They build earthen tubes
from the ground into the structure for protection
from predators and to help maintain a moist
environment. In some rare situations, if water
and wood are available from a source other than
the soil, subterranean termites can establish
a colony with no ground contact.
Termites live inside wood and do not make contact
with soil. They get the moisture they need to
live from humid air. For this reason, Drywood
termites are most common along humid coastal
Termites are social insects that live in highly
organized colonies. Like many insects, they have
an egg, an immature, and an adult stage. There are
three main types of adults colony members: reproductives,
workers, and soldiers. When the colony is several
years old and relatively large, it may produce another
form of an adult termite called a "swarmer."
Swarmers are the termite's way of sending out new
kings and queens to start colonies. Normally, at
least three to four years or more will pass before
any swarming or winged termites from the colony
are the most visible form of termites. These
termites can be confused with many ants that
also swarm in the spring. However, swarming
ants have elbowed antennae, a narrow waist,
and front wings that are longer than the back
wings; swarming termites have straight antennae,
a thick waist, and all wings the same length.
Subterranean termite control
termite control is done by applying either termiticides
to the soil or termite monitoring bait stations
in or around the structure. The goal is to establish
a continuous insecticide barrier between the termite
colony (usually in the soil) and wood in a building.
Sometimes, there may be a secondary termite colony
above the soil (in the roof or other areas with
a constant moisture supply) that requires additional
treatment. The termite baits do not leave a residual
chemical in the soil. However, they can reduce and
may eliminate a termite colony. While this method
of controlling termites is very appealing because
it does not require extensive site preparation such
as drilling or trenching and extensive application
of insecticide to the soil or structure, research
is still ongoing to develop the most effective baits
and delivery systems.
WHOLE-STRUCTURE VS. LOCALIZED OR
What are the different drywood termite controls?
All drywood termite
control methods can be categorized as either whole-structure
or localized. A whole-structure treatment is defined
as the simultaneous treatment of all infestations,
accessible, and inaccessible in a structure. A localized
or spot treatment is more restrictive often applied
to a single board or small group of boards. Homeowners
are advised to know the distinction between whole-structure
and spot treatments when deciding which method to
select because all treatment methods are not equivalent.
treatments have an advantage over spot treatments
in that they are detection independent. This means
whole-structure treatments, if applied properly,
can eliminate all infestations, even hidden ones.
With the unreliability of current detection methods,
there is always some doubt as to the extent of drywood
termite colony boundaries within homes. Consequently,
one can never be sure that all infestations have
AS A WHOLE-STRUCTURE TREATMENT
What is a fumigation?
Fumigation is the process where
insects are eliminated from a structure with
the use of lethal gas. Fumigations are carried
out using essentially two chemicals: Sulfuryl
Fluoride and Methyl Bromide.
These gases are odorless and colorless and
leave no residue. Therefore, prior to the fumigation,
applicators introduce trace amounts of Chloropicrin.
Chloropicrin (a warning agent) has a strong odor and
will cause respiratory and eye irritation.
In September 2000, the California Department of
Pesticide Regulation initiated new procedural regulations
that have made the use of Methyl Bromide fumigant
extremely impractical and costly. The result, of
these new regulations, was to essentially stop the
use of Methyl Bromide as a structural fumigant in
the State of California.
Items to be addressed in preparation
for the fumigation of the average home are:
pets, (including fish and/or fish tanks), and
plants must be removed from the home. If it's
'living', take it out!
All food and
medicinals should be removed or sealed in special
bags (your contractor will inform you about these
fume-bags) according to the instructions from
close to the structure should be cut back from
the house to allow workers access to the walls
of the building. The perimeter of the structure
should be heavily watered to help prevent the
fumigant from moving into the soil and affecting
caps, and weather vanes should be removed.
gates attached to the house may need to have some
boards removed to allow the tarps to reach the
mattresses (except waterbeds) and pillows
which are completely enveloped in waterproof
covers or remove covers.
All mattresses encased in permanent,
waterproof coverings must be removed from the structure
prior to the introduction of the fumigant, including
infant mattresses. Detachable waterproof covers
may be removed from the mattress or pillow in lieu
of removing the object from the structure. Box springs
are considered mattresses for the purposes of this
How do I know how much will be used?
Determination: Because of a
multitude of structural, environmental,
and fumigation variations, there are
no two fumigation jobs that are identical.
The required dosage of Sulfuryl
Fluoride is influenced
by the temperature at the site, the length
of exposure period, and the susceptibility
of the pest to be controlled. The typical
single family home fumigation involves
the use of a 16-18 ounces/1000 cubic foot.
How long will the fumigation last?
period: Sulfuryl fluoride is usually held in the
structure for approximately 16-30 hours. Fumigation
time is depending upon the factors mentioned previously.
How does the fumigant leave the house?
The fumigator aerates
the structure with use of fans and inlet
devices for a minimum of 12 hours.
When will it be safe to return?
structure: Absolutely no one can enter
a structure until it has been certified safe for
reentry by the licencee in-charge of the fumigation.
To ensure that even the owner or tenant cannot reenter
a structure, the company is required to put a secondary
lock on all outside doors that only the company
Certification is the final step of the fumigation.
The fumigator must aerate a structure, so
that the concentration of gas in the air
is less than one (1) parts per million (ppm)
or less prior to allowing reentry. This one
(1) ppm Permissible Exposure Level (PEL) is
substantially lower than the level that may
affect people and pets following even long-term
The fumigator is required to post a reentry notice
on the property at the time the structure is actually
deemed safe for occupancy. If within 24 hours following
aeration, you experience headaches, dizziness, nausea,
tearing, coughing, nose/throat irritation, shortness
of breath, double vision, unusual drowsiness, or
tremors, leave the fumigated structure and immediately
contact your physician, poison control center, the
fumigation company, and your local agricultural
commissioner to report the incident.
What if you are not satisfied with the service
of a structural pest control company?
If the company does not resolve
the problem to your satisfaction, you can contact
the Structural Pest Control Board for assistance
by calling (800) 737 - 8188 Ext. 2, or write to:
Structural Pest Control Board
2005 Evergreen Street Suite 1500
Sacramento, CA 95815-3831
* Photos cortesy
of University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in