Pests in Gardens and Landscapes: Quick Tips
Subterranean termite workers and a soldier (big head).
Distinguishing features of ants and termites.
Winged adults with a soldier and a worker termite.
Exploratory tubes of subterranean termites.
of the serious damage they can cause to wooden structures,
termites are among the pests most feared by homeowners. However, swarms of flying termites do not always mean your
building is infested. A careful inspection of the structure is
required to confirm an infestation. People also frequently mistake
swarms of flying ants for termites. If you suspect that your house
is infested, call a professional. Do-it-yourself sprays cannot
be relied on to reduce a damaging infestation. Common termites
in California are the subterranean termites that build nests in
soil, dampwood termites that nest in moist wood and soil, and drywood
termites that nest above ground in dry wood. Management of each
termite species is different.
Distinguish flying ants from termites:
- Check the antennae, wings and waist to confirm that pest insects
are termites (please refer to ant vs. termite drawing).
Design your building to keep termites out:
- Keep a 12-inch barrier of smooth concrete, sand, or other material
between the soil surface and substructure wood beneath a building.
- Choose termite-resistant wood for fences or other structures
that must contact soil.
- Remove wood piles, untreated fence posts and buried scrap wood
- Provide adequate ventilation to substructures and keep them
- Immediately repair foundation cracks.
If termites are invading your home:
- Destroy shelter tubes that subterranean termites build between
soil and wood structures.
- If dampwood termite nests are accessible, remove infested wood
and eliminate excess moisture.
- Drywood termites can be controlled with heat, freezing, electricity,
microwaves, fumigation, or spot treatments of chemicals.
- For any infestation, contact a professional for help. Pesticides licensed
only for use by a pest control operator are usually necessary to control
subterranean and dampwood infestations.
Using pesticides for termite control:
- Pesticides may be injected into the soil by professional applicators
through drilling or rodding. Special procedures must be followed to prevent
contamination of ground or surface water.
- For soil injections, ask your applicator to use a product other than
chlorpyrifos. Newer types of products such as fipronil and chloronicotinyls
are safer for your health and the environment.
- Baits can be effective in some cases, but may take several months to
control the problem and must be followed up with constant monitoring.
Minimize the use of pesticides that pollute our waterways. Use nonchemical alternatives or less toxic pesticide products whenever possible. Read product labels carefully and follow instructions on proper use, storage, and disposal.