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Termite Inspection and Control

Termites eat wood, and can consequently cause great structural damage to your home if left unchecked. A typical homeowner's insurance policy does not cover destruction caused by termites, even though they cause over 1 billion dollars in damage to homes throughout the United States each year. Our inspection and treatment program can help you understand the threat of termites, and take the necessary steps to protect your home.

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Termite Inspection


You can’t assume your home is termite-free just because you’ve never seen them – they only swarm once or twice a year, and you might miss it!  We thoroughly inspect your home or business, looking for the tell-tale signs of termite infestation.  Some of the things we look for are:

  • Mud tubes built for traveling above ground
  • Damaged or hollow-sounding wood
  • Pinholes in drywall or wallpaper
  • Small piles of sawdust
  • Piles of small wings
  • Other specific termite indicators
In addition, we offer Real Estate transfer termite inspections.

Termite Facts

Subterranean Termite

Subterranean termites are extremely destructive. First they build tunnels to wooden structures, and then they burrow into those structures to obtain food. Any wood or cellulose-containing material constitutes termite food, and given time to do so, they’ll eat until nothing is left but a shell. Termites avoid light and air, so they build their colonies where you’re not likely to stumble upon them.

Termidor

A little bit of Termidor goes a long way in treating your home
Termidor is applied at very low rates. Typically, the active ingredient (fipronil) is just 0.06% of the solution, a concentration much lower than that of older liquids and less than most insecticides. For an average home treatment, only about 8 ounces of the active ingredient is actually used. Keep in mind, too, that since 1995, fipronil has been used around the world for flea and tick control on household pets and on agricultural crops to protect food supplies. And Termidor has virtually no odor, which means you and your family won't notice a thing.

Advanced undetectable technology
Termidor is made from a revolutionary new nonrepellent or "undetectable" chemical technology treatment. That means termites cannot see, smell, taste or avoid Termidor. Instead they contact, ingest, and share it with their nestmates. This is in sharp contrast to older liquid termite controls, which rely on repellent barriers that termites can finds breaks in or avoid completely.

How Termidor protects your home from termites
After Termidor is applied, termites that contact it transfer it to every other termite they in turn contact in a unique process called the "Transfer Effect." And because Termidor is engineered to be slow-acting, termites have ample time to spread it throughout their entire termite population.

Better than bait... without the wait
Baits can take years to control a termite colony. Termidor begins working immediately to wipe out termites inside and immediately surrounding your home. Termidor is the most effective and fastest at completely eliminating termite populations up to six-times faster than bait systems.

 
Drywood Termites
The western drywood termite, Incisitermes minor, is California's second most important termite pest after the western subterranean termite. It is a native insect that has been here millions of years, mostly attacking trees along river washes and arroyos. In California drywood termites are most prevalent in southern California and the Central Valley but also can be found infesting wood along the coast, in bay areas south of San Francisco, and in the southern California desert. For more information on the biology and distinguishing characteristics of this and other termite species common in California, see Pest Notes: Termites, listed in References.
Because of the difficulty in detecting drywood termites and determining the extent of the damage done, do-it-yourself treatments are not recommended; consult a pest control professional. Over-the-counter products with drywood termites on the label for do-it-yourself enthusiasts do not exist. Except for wood removal, homeowners should seek help from pest control professionals. This publication is intended to provide homeowners with sufficient background information so that they can better discuss treatment options with pest control professionals; it is not intended as a treatment guide.

Detection
Drywood termites are secretive insects and are difficult to detect. They live deep inside wood and, except during periods when they swarm or when repair work is being done on infested homes, they are seldom seen. Colonies are small (usually fewer than 1,000 individuals), can be widely dispersed, and take years to mature. While a homeowner may initially detect the presence of termites when they swarm or if fecal pellets are discovered, inspecting for drywood termites and determining the extent of an infestation require experience.
The minimum requirement by California state law for drywood termite inspections includes visual searches of accessible areas. However, detection of difficult-to-find infestations may require removal of walls, paneling, and stucco as well as the use of ladders and scaffolds.
During a visual inspection for drywood termites, inspectors look for feeding damage, shed wings, termite fecal pellets, and kickout holes, which are small holes the size of BB shot through which termites push fecal pellets out of the wood. Fecal pellets, hexagonal in shape, are diagnostic for drywood termites. However, whether the infestation is currently active or what the extent of the infestation is cannot be determined from pellets alone. Clean up the fecal pellets around a kickout hole and then check a few days later to see if new pellets have appeared will determine if an infestation is active. (Building vibrations/movements may cause some pellets to appear.) If an active infestation of drywood termites is found in your structure, you should have it treated.

Eliminating Existing Infestations
All drywood termite control methods can be categorized as either whole-structure or localized. A whole-structure treatment is defined as the simultaneous treatment of all infestations, accessible and inaccessible, in a structure. A localized or spot treatment is more restrictive, often applied to a single board or small group of boards. Homeowners are advised to know the distinction between whole-structure and spot treatments when deciding which method to select because all treatment methods are not equivalent.
Whole-structure treatments have an advantage over spot treatments in that they can eliminate all infestations, even hidden ones. With the uncertainty of current detection methods, particularly when drywall or other wall coverings conceal infestations, there is always some doubt as to the extent of dry-wood termite colony boundaries within homes. Consequently one can never be sure that all infestations have been treated when applying spot treatments. 

Commonly Asked Questions about Subterranean Termite Control

Q. Does my whole house need to be treated? I've been told that a partial treatment will be much cheaper.
A. "Spot" or partial treatments for termites can be very attractive because of their lower cost. Whether this is a good idea depends on many factors including future plans for the house, your willingness to take risks and the size of your pocketbook. Spot treatments can be done successfully; however, it's important to know that termites frequently enter structures at points far removed from the site where they are discovered. Spot treatments frequently come with limited warranties, which may require you to pay for additional treatments should termites reappear in another part of your home. Compared to a spot treatments with a limited warranty, a complete treatment may be a better value. New home buyers, in particular, should be wary of purchasing a home that has recently been spot-treated for termites

Q. What are these black, winged insects in my home?
A. Adult reproductive termites are dark-brown to blackish insects, about 3/8 inch-long. Commonly referred to as "swarmers", the job of reproductive termites is to mate and start new colonies. Termite swarmers may or may not have wings.  Shortly after they emerge from their underground tunnels, swarmer termites shed their wings.  Swarming termites are often confused with ants but can be distinguished by two characters.   Termites lack the "pinched" waist of ants.  Termite wings are all equal in length and almost twice as long as the body, compared to ants that have distinctly longer front wings. Although termite swarmers can, occasionally, enter homes through open windows, finding termite swarmers indoors is a reliable signal of an indoor infestation.  Termite swarms can occur throughout the year, but are most commonly seen between the months of February and May.

Q. Can I treat my home myself?
A. Because of the specialized equipment and chemicals needed to effectively and safely treat your home, it's nearly always best to hire a professional.  Do-it-yourself termite control chemicals are commonly sold through feed, hardware, and nursery supply stores.  For spot treatments, these products may be as effective as some professional products; however it takes a professional to thoroughly treat a home.  Do-it-yourself termite control projects should be limited to smaller, less valuable structures such as sheds, fence post, decks and wood piles.

The Truth about Termites

Termites - a concern in 49 out of 50 states

There are about 2000 known species of termites throughout the world. In the U.S., Subterranean Termites, including Eastern, Western, Desert and Formosans, which build underground nests, are a concern in every state except Alaska. Subterranean termites are extremely destructive, because they tunnel their way to wooden structures (like your home), into which they burrow to obtain food. Termites all share a virtually insatiable appetite for wood and other cellulose-containing materials. Given enough time, they will feed on the wood until nothing is left but a shell.

A Caste of Hundreds of Thousands
Termites are highly social insects that live in large colonies where populations can reach more than one million. A colony consists of several structurally differentiated forms living together as castes (including reproductives, soldiers, and workers) with different functions in community life.

In the spring, winged reproductives leave the parental nest in swarms to create a new colony. The swarming lasts less than an hour, so it's very likely you'll never even see it. The winged reproductives themselves look quite a bit like flying ants, for which they are often mistaken.
Those "Ants" Might be Termites

Both ants and termites have two pairs of wings, but ants' wings are different sizes while the termites' wings are all the same size. Also, ants have narrowed waists and elbowed antennae while termites have thick waists and short, straight antennae that resemble strings of beads. Don't be fooled by color or size. Ants can vary in size, and winged termites can be brown or black like ants.

Look for Signs
You're more likely to discover you have a termite problem by discovering the evidence they leave behind rather than the actual termites themselves. If you encounter any of these telltale signs, there's a good chance termites are busy snacking on your home:

  • Piles of small, delicate wings shed by reproductives
  • Small piles of sawdust
  • Mud tubes built by termites for aboveground travel
  • Damaged or hollow sounding wood
  • Pinholes in drywall or wallpaper