Why Are Whole-Structure Fumigations Frequently Used to Treat Drywood Termite Infestations, but Not Subterranean Termite Infestations?

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Israel Alvarez

Owner @ Insight Pest Management

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Why Are Whole-Structure Fumigations Frequently Used To Treat Drywood Termite Infestations, But Not Subterranean Termite Infestations?

Coastal cities in southern California see the worst termite pest issues in the country, with the possible exception of southern Louisiana and Florida. This is largely due to the diversity and abundance of termite pest species inhabiting southern California, as well as the relatively high rate of termite infestations that occur in coastal areas of the southern US. Two decades ago, experts stated that as many as 80 percent, and as few as 60 percent of all homes in the southland area are infested with termites, and today, this figure is likely higher. About 95 percent of all pest inspections carried out in southland homes turn up termite damage whether they are actively infested or not.

Drywood termites are particularly common in beach communities, and they tend to cause the greatest number of infestations in coastal cities in southern California. However, subterranean termite infestations are also extremely common in southern California, and these termites are far more destructive than their drywood counterparts. Reticulitermes hesperus and Incisitermes minor, are the two most destructive and commonly encountered termite pest species in the region’s coastal counties. These two species are more commonly known as western subterranean termites and western drywood termites, respectively.

Drywood termite colonies are far smaller than subterranean termite colonies, and they mature at a relatively slow rate. This makes drywood termites less destructive to homes than subterranean termites, but unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites do not leave behind any readily noticeable signs of their presence within a home. Subterranean termites dwell in the soil where they access a home’s structural wood by constructing mud tubes. These mud tubes are normally conspicuous on a home’s foundation, and their presence serves as a sure sign of a subterranean termite infestation. Therefore, subterranean termites are best controlled with termiticide soil barriers that prevent the pests from tunneling into yards.

When subterranean termite infestations do occur, their location within a home can be determined by pinpointing all present mud tubes that the pests regularly use to travel between the ground soil and indoor structural wood sources. Drywood termites, on the other hand, initiate infestations while swarming, and they often establish multiple colonies in various areas within a home’s timber frame. This makes pinpointing all infested areas difficult, if not impossible, in the case of drywood termite infestations. This is why whole-structure fumigation is the most effective method of eradicating all indoor drywood termite colonies.

Do you fear drywood termite pests more so than subterranean termite pests? Do you have your home inspected for termites at least twice per year?

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