Which Southern California Termite Species Are Most Destructive? And Which Species Are Most Commonly Found Infesting Homes in the Region?

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Israel Alvarez

Owner @ Insight Pest Management

Table of Contents

The southeast United States sees the greatest diversity of termite species, including several invasive species, like the Formosan subterranean termite. The region’s humid subtropical climate allows termites to thrive, and annual termite swarms are a regular sight during the spring, summer and fall seasons. However, southern California happens to be the one western region that sees the same degree of termite pest problems as the southeast. All three termite-types, subterranean, drywood and dampwood, are well represented in southern California. Common termite pests that infest structures in the region include desert subterranean termites, western subterranean termites, arid-land subterranean termites, western drywood termites, dark western drywood termites, light western drywood termites, pacific dampwood termites,  Nevada dampwood termites and desert dampwood termites. The invasive Formosan subterranean termite that is now common throughout the southeast was discovered in southern California over two decades ago, but the colonies found were eradicated. However, this invasive species began to appear within several homes in southern California late last year, and it may reach Ventura County soon.

The most widespread and destructive termite species in the US, the eastern subterranean termite, is not found within California, but other subterranean termite species can be found in every region of southern California, even at elevations exceeding 8,000 feet. The most destructive termite species in southern California is the desert subterranean termite, followed by the western drywood termite. The desert subterranean termite is the most successful termite species in southern California, as this species’ small size and tolerance of excessively dry conditions allows it to establish a dominant presence in the arid Sonoran Desert region. This species swarms at night during the rainy season from July to September, and they can be a nuisance due to their natural attraction to porch lights. The western drywood termite infests a variety of oleander bushes and tree species including alder, almond, apricot, ash, avocado, cherry, citrus, mulberry, peach, plum and walnut. This species is most notable for inflicting damage to structures that end up costing millions of dollars in repair costs each year.

Have you ever found termites infesting vegetation within a residential area?





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