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  • Termites in Sacramento

    termite infestation in Sacramento homeWhy Termite Control is Big Business in Sacramento

    While termites are a problem throughout California (not to mention most of the U.S.), Sacramento is an especially prominent hub of termite activity. In fact, the River City placed 16th on Terminix’s 2018 Top 25 Termite Cities List. Not surprisingly, termite control companies in Sacramento stay busy, with termite inspection and termite treatment remaining high-demand services.

    So, what makes Sacramento such a hot spot for termites? First, it’s in a region that’s home to several termite species, including the Western drywood termite, the Pacific dampwood termite and the Western subterranean termite. The Sacramento area is actually the northernmost extremity of Western drywood termite territory, as the species is mainly found throughout the southwestern U.S.

    Sacramento’s unique climate and environmental factors make it an attractive destination for termites. The high temperatures and humidity of Sacramento summers provide the moist, warm conditions termites thrive in. And, since the only thing termites love more than wood is moisture, the city’s close proximity to the Sacramento and American Rivers only increases its appeal. What’s more, in the event of a major flood in Sacramento, the affected homes would provide a veritable buffet for dampwood termites.

    If you’re a Sacramento homeowner, it’s important to understand the risks that termites pose to your home and finances. After all, homeowners insurance policies in California generally don’t cover the cost of termite-related repairs and renovations. Whether you want to prevent or get rid of termites, you’ll need to find a dependable Sacramento termite control company. To learn more about termite prevention, termite treatment and other related topics, read the adjacent articles.

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  • Termite Species Guide

    Sacramento has dampwood termites Types of Termites Found in Sacramento

    Sacramento is home to a variety of termite species, each of which exhibits unique characteristics. What’s more, each of these different species requires specific strategies for eradication. That’s why it’s helpful for Sacramento homeowners to know how to identify the distinctive signs and features of the various termite types. The following article provides a synopsis of the three most prominent termite species found in Sacramento.

    Western subterranean termite

    The most infamous termite species on the West Coast, the Western subterranean termite is known for its destructiveness and stealth. Because they nest beneath the ground, subterranean termites are harder to detect than drywood or dampwood termites—in fact, they’re seldom seen above ground, save for seasonal swarming. This is mainly because they require warm, moist conditions to survive.

    Subterranean termites can easily infest wood that comes into contact with the soil, but they can also access wood that isn’t in direct contact. They do this by building tiny, humidity-controlled tunnels up from the soil to their targeted food source. These “mud tubes” are approximately the width of a drinking straw and can be found along home foundations; beneath flooring; around baseboards; on pipes, piers and chimneys; and behind siding and plumbing fixtures.

    Like any termite species, subterranean termites swarm at certain times of year, an event in which the reproductives or “alates” spread out and attempt to establish new colonies. In Northern California, subterranean termites swarm in mid-spring, usually following rain; smaller swarms can occur during summer. As the most likely members of the subterranean termite family to be seen, alates are dark brown/black in color with two pairs of pale/smoky gray wings that are nearly equal in length. They’re typically one-quarter to one-half of an inch long (including wings).

    Due to their surreptitious nature, subterranean termite infestations typically go unnoticed until major damage has occurred. The only way to know for sure whether your Sacramento home is safe from this pernicious pest is to schedule regular professional inspections. If you come across a subterranean termite infestation in your home, do not disturb it. If disturbed, the termites will abandon the area and find another place to infest, which will only further complicate detection and treatment. Instead, leave it alone and immediately contact a termite control company.

    Western drywood termite

    Western drywood termites may not be as dreaded as their subterranean relatives, but they can still cause significant damage to your home. Unlike subterranean termites, which access homes from beneath, drywood termites travel by air and infest wood elements directly. They typically target exposed areas of window/door frames, trim and eaves, as well as poorly fitted corner joints.

    Western drywood termites typically swarm in late summer/early fall. Drywood alates look similar in form and size to subterranean alates, but they can be distinguished by their heads, which are orange-brown in color.

    One of the most common indicators of western drywood termites is the presence of small, sand-like granules known as “termite pellets.” Often found on windowsills, these tiny pellets are created as termites eat away at the wood in a home. Another telltale sign is a proliferation of discarded wings, as drywood alates uniformly shed their wings after swarming. Subterranean alates also shed their wings after swarming, but with far less consistency.

    Pacific dampwood termites

    Dampwood termites are so named because they exclusively infest wet wood, due to the extremely moist conditions they require to survive. For this reason, they’re rarely found inside wood and more often found in exterior wood elements like deck and fence boards that have been exposed to the elements. Pacific dampwood termites are similar in appearance to western drywood and subterranean termites but tend to be bigger in size, with alates reaching up to an inch in length (including wings).

    If you find dampwood termites inside your home, you probably have a bigger problem on your hands: water damage and/or dry rot. Typically, by simply removing the affected wood and making needed repairs, a dampwood termite infestation will resolve itself naturally.

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  • Know Your Options

    swarming termite alatesOptions for Termite Treatment

    Sacramento termite control professionals utilize a wide variety of methods to remove and prevent termites. The type of method used depends on several factors, such as the species of termite and the extent of the infestation. The following article provides a synopsis of the most common termite treatment methods in use today.

    Soil-applied barrier treatments

    With this method, a termite control professional applies a liquid chemical treatment (known as termiticide) to the soil surrounding the home to create a barrier. This may be a repellent barrier, which deters termites from entering the home, or a non-repellent barrier, which kills termites returning from the home to their nest. It’s critical that soil-applied barrier treatments be implemented by an experienced professional, as incorrect application can result in contamination of the local soil and water.

    Termite bait systems

    A termite bait system is a non-repellent termite treatment that works slowly but is extremely effective at eliminating termite colonies. This method relies on a number of strategically placed bait stations that attract the termites, who mistake the bait for food and bring it back to their nest. Unbeknownst to them, they’re actually introducing a deadly chemical to the colony, which will spread like a virus and eradicate the infestation at its source.

    Fumigation

    Whole-home fumigation is a long-practiced method used in instances where termite infestation is widespread throughout the home. After completely covering the home with a huge tent, the termite control specialist releases chemicals that pervade the entirety of the structure. The treatment usually lasts for a couple of days to ensure effectiveness. Due to the intensive measures it entails, fumigation is the most expensive of all termite treatment options. Additionally, it’s only effective at eliminating drywood termite species.

    Local treatments

    In contrast to whole-structure treatments like fumigation, local treatments focus on isolated areas of termite infestation. Local treatment methods range from the use of orange oil, borax spray and electrocution to the application of microwave technology. Since they’re smaller in scope, local treatments are usually less expensive than large-scale termite treatments. However, if the treatment doesn’t kill every single termite, it won’t do any good—the remaining termites will just pick up where the colony left off. For this reason, homeowners who attempt local treatments often end up resorting to more intensive treatment methods later.

    Wood treatment (borate)

    A chemical that’s deadly to termites, borate works by killing the protozoa in a termite’s digestive system that breaks down ingested wood into nutrients. Borate can be applied to a home’s structural wood to reduce termite populations and/or reduce the wood’s susceptibility to termites. However, since borate alone isn’t effective at wiping out a termite colony in its entirety, this treatment is better regarded as an ancillary or preventative measure.

    Non-chemical treatments

    While most termite treatments rely on chemical agents, there are also a number of non-chemical treatments in use. However, since chemicals are typically necessary to effectively eradicate termite infestations, these treatments are mostly preventative in nature. These include the application of physical barriers like metal shields, steel mesh, and sand in vulnerable areas of the home like crawl spaces and slab foundations. Additionally, using naturally termite-proof building materials in a home’s construction can reduce the chances for termite infestation.

    Regular follow-up inspections

    Regardless of the method used, follow-up inspections are absolutely vital to verify a termite treatment’s success. Otherwise, there’s no telling whether the infestation was fully eradicated, and if not, your termite problems are only going to return in the future.

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  • Tip Sheet

    worker termites in woodTermite Prevention Tips for Sacramento Homeowners

    Since the standard home insurance policy in California does not cover termite damage, your best insurance against termites is to take preventative measures. Follow these guidelines to protect your Sacramento home:

    Prevent wood-to-soil contact with your home

    • Keep mulch, wood debris, scrap lumber, sawdust and firewood away from your home. If you keep firewood outside during the winter, raise it off the ground.
    • Trim all shrubs, bushes and other dense greenery away from your home’s foundation.
    • Don’t affix wooden trellises to exterior walls.
    • Ideally, wood siding, stucco and foam board should be at least 6 inches away from the ground.

    Seal your home exterior

    • Keep a thick coat of paint on all exterior wood.
    • Apply clear caulk to cracks and wood separations on exterior trim.

    Minimize moisture

    • Repair leaking faucets and water lines and address leaky roofs and gutters.
    • Grade soil so water runs away from your home’s foundation.
    • Ventilate crawl spaces and attics to reduce humidity.
    • Make sure at least 90 percent of the soil in a crawl space is covered with plastic sheeting.

    Invest in professional termite inspections

    • Have your home inspected for termites every one to two years. This will allow a professional to identify signs of termite activity, as well as any conditions that could lead to termite-related problems in the future.
    • When looking to buy a home, don’t settle for a general home inspection—insist on a full wood-destroying organism inspection. Termites (along with wood-boring beetles, mold, dry rot and other wood-destroying organisms) are often hidden and can be easily missed during a general home inspection. An in-depth inspection performed by a termite control professional will focus specifically on identifying signs of termites and other wood-destroying organisms in the home.
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