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Costa Mesa, Newport Beach, Huntington Beach, South Orange County, Long Beach Area

It Looks Like The Formosan Termites Have Arrived In So Cal

The Formosan subterranean termite is one of the world’s most destructive termite species, and it appears that they have arrived in Southern California. In June of 2020, an infestation of Formosan termites was found in Riverside County. In June of this year, two more infestations of these termites were confirmed: one in Los Angeles County, and the other in San Diego County.
Finding new infestations of these termites in three different counties could be an indication that Formosan termites are a lot more prevalent than previously believed.

A historical perspective
Formosan termites were first discovered in California, back in February of 1992. They were found in a home in La Mesa, about 10 miles east of San Diego. The family had recently moved into this area from Hawaii, and it is believed that the Formosan termites may have been in potted plants and wood that they brought with them.
A total of seven homes in the area were found to be infested. Five of the homes had extensive damage, costing tens of thousands of dollars to repair. Researchers were able to eradicate the termites from these homes, but not before some of the termites had spread into new areas.

Distribution and impact
Formosan termites are native to mainland China but have been spread to other areas of the world, primarily by commerce. They are a major structural pest in Hawaii, and are established in seven of our southeastern states.
Formosan termite colonies can be quite large and may consist of up to six million members (versus several hundred thousand termites for our native subterranean termite species). With millions of termites at work, they can do significant damage to a home in only six months, and a home can be rendered unlivable within two years.

What do these termites look like?
The Formosan termite kings and queens are yellowish-brown in color. Their color is a good way for you to distinguish them from our native subterranean termites (almost black in color) and our native drywood termites (red and brown in color).
The times when people most often see termites are when the termites are on their mating flights during swarming season. Formosan termites usually swarm in the early evening hours, during the summer months. Our native subterranean termites usually swarm during the day in the early spring, and our drywood termites usually swarm during the day in the fall.
Like our native subterranean termites, Formosan termites typically nest in the ground. However, Formosan termites will sometimes build aerial colonies with no ground contact, if sufficient water is available. That’s why they can sometimes be found flourishing on the rooftops of high-rise buildings in Florida and Hawaii.

How are infestations of Formosan termites treated?
Treatments of Formosan termites will usually require a two-pronged approach: the soil below the foundation will need to be treated with a termiticide, and the house will need to be covered with a tent and fumigated with Vikane gas.

Soil treatments will need to be very thorough. The full exterior perimeter of the structure should be treated, as well as plumbing and electrical protrusions through the slab. The interior perimeter of the garage will need to be treated, and if the home has a raised foundation, those areas under the home will need treatment, as well. Again, treatments will need to be very thorough, with no areas left untreated.

The tent fumigations are similar to what we do for our native drywood termites. What makes Formosan termite fumigations different is that you will need to use 4-times the amount of gas that we would normally use for drywood termites. Due to the fact that these Formosan termite colonies are so large, and because of the potential for significant damage, there is little room for error. We strongly recommend that you carefully review all treatment specifications before hiring anyone to perform a treatment of these pests.  After your treatments have been completed, we also recommend that you have your home meticulously inspected, annually.

What are the odds?
At this time, we only know of three new infestations of these termites, but there are probably more infestations that have yet to be identified. This is another good reason of why you should always have your home or business inspected annually.

Need a termite inspection? Call us at (949) 631-7348 and we’ll schedule an appointment at your convenience.