RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus) remain on the radar of pest control professionals in Southern California after two more infestations were confirmed — one from a home in La Verne, Calif., and the other from a home in Hollywood Hills, California. The results were presented by Dr. Chow-Yang Lee and researchers from his laboratory at the University of California, Riverside Department of Entomology.
As previously reported by PCT, Formosan Subterranean Termites (FSTs) are not native to either Southern California or the United States. However, they have been confirmed in pockets in California, and many entomologists and pest control experts believe they may be underreported in the Golden State.
FST’s most recent discovery in La Verne, California came after ProCraft Pest Control, Upland, California, was called by one of its customers about a large termite swarm. It turned out that the swarm came from the neighboring house. This homeowner, who owns a lumber company, built his home using numerous railroad ties. ProCraft owner Mike Furlong suspects that some of the railroad ties may have been transported from a location where Formosan termites live underground.
© Mike Furlong
ProCraft’s Luke Miller, the service technician who made the FST discovery at a home in La Verne.
Furlong was alerted to potential FSTs by ProCraft service technician Luke Miller, who oversees the home. “I decided to send it in (to UCR) because it didn’t fit,” Furlong said. “Just a lighter color throughout, and that doesn’t match Drywoods and other subs that we’re seeing. And the wings looked. The discoloration was essentially gone.”
dr Lee was out of the country, but his lab technician, Sen Miao, performed the measurement and molecular identification. Lee then checked the identification result and confirmed that they were Formosan subterranean termites. “Basically, we examined the morphology of the sample under the microscope and then did an analysis of the 16S ribosomal RNA,” Lee said.
Furlong said his client’s home was immaculate and also built on a slab (no crawl space), so he found no damage, but that ProCraft will monitor this property closely for FSTs going forward.
In addition to the Formosan termites found at La Verne, an FST infestation has been confirmed at a home in Hollywood Hills, California. The termites were sent to UC Riverside by the homeowner after being identified first by Orkins Isela Munoz and then by Orkins Inspector José Ernesto Aguilar. after dr Siavash Taravati of the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) received the sample, he visited the home and found more dead Formosan termites in the attic storage area. However, there were no signs of an active infestation upon visual inspection or when using Termatrac, a device that uses microwave technology to detect tiny movements in the wood.
“It’s an old all-wood house where termites were first found in an attic in June 2022, flying around a standing light near a storage door,” he said.
Taravati said some minor damage to the landscape was found on the buried portion of the fence down the slope, “but we don’t know if it’s from western subterranean termites or Formosan. Dense cover plants were found on the slope, but the wooden retaining walls were intact.
The house also has a lot of minor drywood termite damage based on its shape and the presence of hexagonal fecal pellets.”
Taravati added that he inspected the Hollywood Hills home’s crawl space and found no evidence of FST damage and that the soil in the nearby landscape is relatively dry, except for a few spots near sprinkler systems.