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.
Read moreRead less