Types of Termites in Southern California
Characteristics – Soft bodies and are cylindrical in shape, six legs, compound eyes and chewing mandibles. The colony is composed of a king, queen, nymphs and soldiers. An average colony can consist of thousands in number. They are known to swarm in the Spring, but can occur anytime of the year. Termites are often discovered on window sills as they are drawn to the light. All termites, when swarming, have developed temporary wings, but are not good flyers.These are the reproductives and are swarming to colonize new areas. Drywood termites are most often found in wood framing. Drywood termites eat wood, wallpaper, plastics and fabric made from plants. Drywood termites do not require moisture or contact with the soil.
Size: 3/8″ to 1″
Shape: Long, narrow, oval
Color: Light brown
Common Name: Drywood termite
Characteristics – Smaller in size than the Drywood termites, the colony consists of workers, soldiers, a queen and king. The soldiers have elongated heads with pincher-like mandibles. The subterranean gets its name from living in the ground, building tunnels up to the framing that look like mud tubes. The mud tubes help to protect the Subterranean termite from exposure to sun and elements. These too, are know to swarm in the Spring, but may occur anytime of the year.
Characteristics – Dampwood termites are larger in size than Drywood, Subterranean or Formosan termites. Dampwoods are not found in as many states. They are found mostly in California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada and Florida. The colony consists of soldiers, nymphs, king and queen. They swarm in the Spring but can occur anytime of the year. The Dampwood termite gets its name from requiring damp wood to survive.Therefore, this type of termite is not usually found in structures.
Characteristics – Formosan termites have large underground colonies. The colony can be ten times larger than a Subterranean termite colony. They build mud nests in walls and other enclosed spaces. The Formosan has currently been found in Hawaii, N. Carolina, S. Carolina and most states along the Gulf. There have been notations of them in the Riverside area of California. The Formosan can cause highly accelerated damage compared to other termites.
Workers represent the majority of the colony population and are responsible for caring for eggs, constructing and maintaining tunnels, foraging for food and the feeding and grooming of other caste members. They are white and soft bodied.
Soldiers are responsible for defending the colony. They are white, soft bodied with an enlarged, hardened head containing two large jaws, or mandibles, which are used as a weapon against predators.
Winged reproductives produce the offspring in the colony and swarm at certain times of the year. Colonies can have both primary reproductives (one king and one queen), and hundreds of secondary reproductives to assist in egg laying and colony growth.
The king termite assists the queen in creating and attending to the colony during it’s initial formation. He will continue to mate throughout his life to help increase the colony size. The queen termite creates the colony by laying eggs and tending to the colony until enough workers and nymphs are produced to care for the colony. She can live for more than ten years and produce hundreds of eggs each year. Colonies can reach several million termites with the help of secondary queens who also produce eggs.