Bullet Three Types of Termites Common in California

The subterranean termite, the drywood termite, and the dampwood termite are the three types of termites common in California. Different types are more prevalent in different areas. Example, i.e., dampwood termites in northern coastal area. Your inspector must be aware of the different types of wood destroying pest and organisums in your area and have the knowledge to make a correct identification.

Subterranean termites are the smallest in size but the most destructive and numerous. Drywoods are mid sized and probably the most costly to control. Dampwoods are the largest and probably the easiest to control. Termites have incomplete metamorphosis. They hatch from eggs as "nymphs" and need the adults to attend to the eggs. “They go through seven instar molts." Some then change to soldiers or swarmers "alates" .

All termites convert cellulose to starch by protozoa in the gut. They must get protozoa from other members of the colony. When the colony gets larger, the food supply is short, or conditions change, swarming occurs. This swarming usually occurs in the spring or fall for subs and dampwoods after a rain or on a bright clear day most often at temperatures around 80 ° with high humidity. Drywood termites normally swarm mid day Mid-October through November. Termite swarmers are poor fliers and usually travel a very short distance. On landing, they shed their wings, mate, find a bare wood and start a new colony.

Termite workers are cream colored with no wings and no mandibles. Subterranean termite swarmers are black with black heads. Drywood termites and dampwood termites are a dark reddish brown to black with dark red heads and either have wings or wing pads. Dampwood termite wings are much longer than the body of the termite. Soldiers can be identified by the big head and mandibles. Drywood termites can exist in wood with a moisture content as low as 3%.

The genus of drywood termites were recently split off. The western termite formally called kalotermes are now called incisitermes minor hagen.