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Termite Identification

What are termites?

close up of a termite

Both subterranean termites and drywood termites live in Ventura County. Though they differ in some behaviors and nesting habits, they both cause structural damage to the homes and businesses they find their way into. Termites feed on wood, turning cellulose into a usable food source with the help of specialized protozoa and bacteria found in its gut.

Subterranean termites build their nests deep within the ground in damp soil. They have high moisture needs and require contact with the soil to survive. Subterranean termites prefer to feed on decaying or water-damaged wood. These termites do not live inside the wood they are feeding on.

Drywood termites have lower moisture needs than subterranean termites and prefer to feed on dry wood. They nest inside the wooden structures they are feeding on and don't require contact with the soil to survive. They feed more slowly than subterranean termites but much more efficiently, leaving only a thin outer shell by the time they are finished.

Are termites dangerous?

Termites are among the most dangerous pests to have in your home even though they don't bite, sting, or spread diseases. The reason they are so dangerous is because of the destruction they can cause inside homes and businesses. Termites that find their way into our homes and work day and night, silently eating away at the wood to feed their colonies. To help put it in perspective, termites invade millions of homes each year across the United States and cause more than five billion dollars in damage!

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Why do I have a termite problem?

Subterranean termites usually find their way inside while out searching for food for their colony. Worker termites move into structures through spaces in the foundation or wood making contact with the soil.

Drywood termites usually become a problem inside structures after we accidentally introduce them inside. Drywood termites frequently infest wood flooring, furniture, construction timbers, and barn wood.

Where will I find termites?

Subterranean termites travel back and forth from their nest to a food source every day. They keep their nesting areas and foraging sites separate from each other. Worker termites leave the nest and travel through the soil or mud tubes they have created. Mud tubes allow them to travel above the ground to their food source while maintaining their moisture needs and staying out of sight of predators.

Entry points into our homes for subterranean termites are usually at ground level or below ground level and include cracks in the foundation and wood making contact with the ground. Once inside, they enter into and feed on the structural wood behind walls, under floors, and above ceilings. Preferred feeding sites are near areas of moisture like water pipes, sinks, windows and doors, and air conditioners.

In contrast, drywood termites live, feed, and nest inside the wooden structures they are feeding on. Their nests are above the ground in dry pieces of wood. Drywood termites don't have high moisture requirements and can gain all the moisture they need from the wood they feed on.

Finding small holes in wooden structures in your home and sawdust-like material nearby is an indication that termites are present. Drywood termites create holes in the wood's exterior they are feeding on to kick out their fecal material.

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