Highly social and ready to mingle in a California city near you, termites love a good time. Their idea of a good time is a party at your house, and you may not even know you’ve invited them to show up. California’s termites are among the state’s chief pests. They’re everywhere from San Diego to Crescent City and towns in between. The three types of termites found carousing throughout the state are dampwood termites, drywood termites and subterranean termites. Slightly different elements attract each — and each can pose a serious threat to your California home. Knowing what attracts these insect pests can help you combat them.


Termites love wood. As their names suggest, dampwood termites love damp wood while drywood insects prefer dry wood. Subterranean termites prefer damp wood as well, especially wood that has been damaged by water. They love untreated wood and are turned off by treated wood and woods like redwood that are naturally termite-resistant. While they enjoy the outer layers of cedar wood, they don’t relish cedar heartwood as it contains natural chemicals that deter these pests.

While termites avoid woods like cypress hardwood (they’ll eat the cypress softwood), walnut, mahogany, teak wood or pressure-treated woods, they will feast on pine wood, oak, springwood, plywood, and most types of wood found in your home. Though technically not a wood, unprocessed (natural) bamboo is also susceptible to termite attacks.

How Are Termites Attracted to the Wood in Your Home?

Termites target homes by smell. They are attracted to the chemical odors that emanate from wood. Rotting or decaying wood, naturally, gives off an odor that even humans are likely to notice. These smells are extremely enticing to termites. Drywood termites don’t need as much moisture as dampwood or subterranean termites. They’re particularly drawn to wood framing in attics, but will also attack other exposed dry wood, including picture frames and furniture.

Wood Piles

Termites are attracted to wood piles outside of your home. Exposed wood like firewood can draw termites closer to your home. Subterranean termites will nest in the soil near these wood piles, but the other types of termites will nest in the woodpile itself. When bringing wood into your home, you could very easily transport these pests inside.


Many Californians rely on mulch to tamp down on weeds and help keep the soil moist, but wood mulch is a draw for termites. When installing mulch in your flower beds, avoid placing it too close to your home structure. If your house has any foundation cracks — even very small ones — it could be vulnerable to termites. The mulch will bring them into proximity with those cracks. To reduce the risk of an infestation, avoid putting wood mulch near your foundation, and take care to seal cracks as soon as you notice them.


While drywood termites get enough moisture to survive from humidity in the air and the cellulose they feast on in their wood meals, subterranean and dampwood termites are drawn to moisture. If you have a leaky pipe, especially near wood, you are broadcasting your home’s desirability to all termites within smelling distance. If you suspect your home has a hidden leak, take care of it quickly. Leaks cause damage that will likely be magnified if it attracts termites to your home.


Termites care nothing about your home’s curb appeal. They love its imperfections, especially cracks near windows or gaps that they can crawl through to get inside of your house. Gaps in siding, for instance, can be particularly troublesome. Once termites get in through cracks, they’ll go quickly to work, setting up colonies and feeding on your wood.

California’s temperatures, though not humid in the south, are highly conducive to termite activity. Treating your home for termites is the best way to protect it from invasion. You can also take care to reduce humidity in your home to deter termites and call an exterminator as soon as you notice any termites in your house. Remember that even if you seal foundation cracks and eliminate woodpiles, you can still find yourself with a termite problem. The sooner you contact your pest control service, the sooner you can protect your home from extensive termite damage.

If you believe you have termites in or around your home Request a free termite inspection online, call us at 888-945-2847 or visit our contact page. All of our termite inspections are no obligation and 100% free!