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Termite Education

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites are extremely destructive. First they build tunnels to wooden structures, and then they burrow into those structures to obtain food. Any wood or cellulose-containing material constitutes termite food, and given time to do so, they’ll eat until nothing is left but a shell. Termites avoid light and air, so they build their colonies where you’re not likely to stumble upon them. Subterranean termites also swarm.

Drywood Termites

The western drywood termite (Incisitermes minor) is California's 2nd most important wood destroying pest 2nd only to the western subterranean termite. This species is native to California and has been here for millions of years, mostly attacking trees along rivers and creeks. In California, drywood termites are mostly common in Southern California and the Central Valley but also can be found infesting wood along the coast and in the deserts.

Because of the difficulty in detecting drywood termites and determining the extent of the damage done, do-it-yourself treatments are not recommended; consult a pest control professional. Over-the-counter products with drywood termites on the label for do-it-yourself enthusiasts do not exist. Except for wood removal, homeowners should seek help from pest control professionals.

Stanley Pest Control has experienced termite inspectors that identify problems and can offer solutions that would best meet your needs and budget.


Drywood termites are secretive insects and are difficult to detect. They live deep inside wood and, except during periods when they swarm or when repair work is being done on infested homes, they are seldom seen. Colonies are small (usually up to 5,000), can be widely dispersed, and take years to mature.

During a visual inspection for drywood termites, inspectors look for feeding damage, shed wings, termite fecal pellets, and kick-out holes which are small holes the size of a BB shot through which termites push fecal pellets out of the wood. Fecal pellets, hexagonal in shape, are diagnostic for drywood termites.

Eliminating Existing Infestations

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 infestation, 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.

Whole-structure Treatment

Fumigants such as Vikane (sulfuryl fluoride) treat all infestations simultaneously and have high levels of efficacy if correctly applied. Sulfuryl fluoride kills drywood termites in about 3 days.

Major issues to consider with the use of fumigants include the difficulty of installing tarpaulins, the difficulty in determining the proper dosage, the need to protectively bag food items, and the lack of residual control. Residual control means long-term protection (several years or more/0 from drywood termite attack. (Generally, only chemicals added to or onto wood provide residual control.) It will also be necessary to vacate the structure for 2 to 3 days while being tented and then ventilated.

Localized or Spot Treatments

There are many localized/spot treatment methods available that include both chemical and non-chemical options. For liquid or dust insecticides to be effective, termites must touch or ingest them. Spot treatments should be applied only by licensed applicators. Home use products are not effective.

Wood replacement is another remedial treatment option. However, similar to other spot treatments, its effectiveness is highly dependent on detection accuracy and the extent and location of the infestation.

Integrating chemical and nonchemical treatments to ensure that termites are not able to colonize over the long term is a strategy used by some pest control professionals Nonchemical; long-term preventative methods include physical barriers, such as metal screens. Resistant woods can reduce but do not eliminate damage. There are a few studies that demonstrate the efficacy of combinations of methods or of nonchemical, long-term preventative treatments directed against drywood termites.

Stanley Pest Control termite inspectors can give you all the options that are available, including annual services to help protect your property from drywood termites.

Is it a Termite or an Ant?

On the off chance you do see them, remember that it’s easy to confuse termites with ants. Fortunately, there are features that distinguish them.

Termites Ants
  • thick waists
  • straight antennae
  • two sets of wings (same size)
  • narrow waists
  • bent antennae
  • two sets of wings (one wing is longer than the other)

Please note that other wood destroying organisms, besides termites, can also cause dry rot.