Friday, April 26, 2019


Where do termites come from?
 The word "termite" comes from the latin "termes" & "tarmit" and from the greek "tetranien", meaning "a worm eating wood". Fossils of winged termites (alates) dating back to the Creataceous period (125 million years ago) have been found in China, Labrador, Australia, Africa and South America. Some drywood termites were also found in amber (fossilized tree sap) in the Baltics.
Fossilized Termite

How often should I have my house checked for infestations?
Depending on the age, location and configuration of the structure, you should request an inspection every two to four years. It's long enough for a experienced and licensed inspector to detect any visible evidence of infestation and not too long to allow structural pests (termites, wood boring beetles and fungi) to create significant structural damage. Check also our FAQs page for tips on preventing termite infestations.

Why do termites swarm and when?
 Swarms occur when some workers and soldiers mature into winged females and males (alates). They instinctively fly away to mate and start new colonies. Different species will swarm at various times and seasons. In Marin County, Subterranean termites mostly swarm on warm and humid spring days, while drywood termites tend to swarm in the heat of summer. Dampwood termites generally swarm in fall.

Subterranean Termite Swarmers

What's the biggest termite?
 At 60 feet, the world's largest termite is the inflatable Termidor termite used as a traveling education and information center (see NPR report). Joking aside, it is unclear what is the biggest live termite. Many species compete for this title like the Australian Termite (Mastotermes darwiniensis) and the Arboreal Termite (Nasutitermes corniger) found in Central America and New Guinea. The Pacific Dampwood Termite (Zootermopsis angusticollis), which at 30mm with wings (15mm without) is among the largest, can be found right here in Marin and Sonoma Counties.

Dampwood Termite

How many kinds of termites are there?
According to the University of Toronto, there are over 2761 species of termites within 282 generae. In northern California the most common families of species are
1) "Reticultermes hesperus" (Rhinotermitidae) or Western Subterranean Termite
2) "Incistermes minor" (Kalotermitidae) or Dark Western Drywood Termite, and
3) "Zootermopsis Angusticollis" (Hodotermitidae) or Pacific Dampwood Termite

What is a Xylophaous Insect?
It is an insect that feeds on wood and wood biproducts (paper, cardboard, partical board, plywood, etc.). Termites and wood boring beetles are xylophagous insects, while carpenter ants and carpenter bees are not. Thoug Carpenter ants infest wood members, they do not feed on wood but rather carve wood members for shelter. Ants feed on starches, sugars and other honeydew like products.

Can you tell a Termite from a Carpenter Ant?
 It can be hard to differentiate a swarming termite (alate) from a winged carpenter ant. You're not alone because it is not easy given the many varieties of termites and ants out there. Here are a few critical differences that are fairly easy to spot with a naked eye... and the help of a small magnifying glass. Still! Don't forget to check with a California Licensed Professional Inspector. Ants: Elbowed antennae, narrow waists, separate thorax and abdomen, different size wings, longer legs. Termites: Straight antannae, thick waists, continuous thorax and abdomen, same size wings, shorter legs.

Are you isopterophobic?
Isopterophobia is the fear of wood eating insects (termites, beetles, fungus, carpenter ants etc.). Though termites are annoying when they swarm and may appear repulsive to some, they don't sting or bite and only feed on wood and cellulose bi-products (paper, cardboard, glue, starches, etc.). Termites belong to the "isoptera" order  and isopterophobes don't necessarily fear termites attacking them but rather the damage they can do to their homes. FYI: Fear of all insects is called entomophobia (from entomology the studies of insects).


Here are a few common questions our homeowners and real estate agents frequently ask.

Bait stations vs. Perimeter Treatments - What's best?
We don't use bait stations given their limited effectiveness and notorious rate of failure.  Why invite the termites for dinner? Given the size of the bait, they'll likely find the house before the bait stations.

Termites swarming galleries next to another company's bait station

We tried many treatments and have found Termidor termiticide to be the most effective against subterranean termites. Since September 2000 we have been using Termidor termiticide and have had 100% success to this date. It's treat and forget!  Plus there are no quarterly service fees and we offer a 5 year warranty with Termidor perimeter treatments.

Tenting/Fumigation - Are there any residual effects?
Vikane Sufuryl Fluoride is a non-residual gas and it is used to deplete the structure of oxygen. Once the fumigation is completed, the tarps are removed, the structure is vented with fans for 24 hours and tested to verify that the structure is cleared and certified for re-occupancy. For more information and the MSDS check the Dow website for Vikane or the EPA's webpage on Sulfuryl Fluoride.

Larkspur City Hall & Fire Department Fumigated by Marin Termite

Is Termidor dangerous to my family and pets?
The active ingredient in Termidor termiticide is “Fipronil” the same reformulated ingredient that can be found in some of the flea control pet products. When applied for termite treatment, Termidor is injected into the ground, under patios/walkways and/or onto soil infested areas hard to reach (in sub areas and beneath decks /stairs). The product has no odor scent or taste and is unknowingly picked up by termites making it so effective. For more information and the MSDS check the website for Termidor.

Termites are flying in my house! Why and what should I do?
Termites swarm to start new colonies. Sometimes they unknowingly swarm indoors, but the environment is not conducive to their survival and they will shortly die.  Call us for a thorough inspection to determine what is the best treatment and to determine if there is any structural damage to your home. During the inspection, and depending upon the type of termite, we'll gladly share some tips on what can be done until the treatment is performed.

Subterranean Termite Swarmers

How can I get rid of dry rot/wood decay damage?
Dry rot is caused by a fungus decaying the structural integrity of wood. Aside from repairing or replacing the damaged wood members, there is no easy way to remove dry rot damage. If fungus is present on the wood surface and damage has not yet occurred, the best is to immediately apply a registered fungicide and prevent moisture intrusion and/or retention with use of proper flashing, moisture proofing and/or wood preservatives. Call us for a professional inspection and we will provide you with a quality report and specific recommendations.

Fungus & Subflooring Wood Decay Damage

How do I know if I have wood boring beetles in my house?
There are many varieties of wood boring beetles,  each with different infestation habits and some may be difficult to detect and identify, particularly to the untrained eye. Generally beetles are rarely seen but their damage is more evident with dust falling from wood members. Tenting and fumigation may be the best treatment, however sometimes a local treatment will suffice. The best course of action is to obtain a professional inspection and report with the appropriate recommendation.

Wood Boring Beetle Holes visible on surface (left)
and exposed damage beneath (right)

How can I prevent termites from infesting my home?
Termites are part of the ecosystem and do serve a purpose; they return dead and dying trees back to the earth. That's fine in the forest but not in our homes.  Here are a few tips and actions that will help against termite infestation:
  • Grade soil away from the home to remove any earth-wood contacts.
  • Fix any plumbing leaks, especially in the bathrooms, the kitchen, laundry room and crawl spaces.
  • Patch, seal and paint all areas subject to moisture intrusions (showers, windows, doors, exterior walls...)
  • Keep the exterior siding well caulked, sealed and painted.
  • Check with a Geotechnical Engineer for any drainage problems.
  • Store goods and wood material without any direct ground contact. 
  • Clear sub areas and crawl spaces beneath your house and keep decks free of wood and tree debris.
  • Call us and have periodic limited inspections every 3 to 4 years.
Subterranean Termite Galleries

We often add and change FAQs so come and check this page again. If you have a specific question feel free to send us an email ( or do give us a call at 415/456-9620. Our staff and inspectors will be happy to provide you with information.

Friday, April 19, 2019


Since 1971 Marin Termite Control offers detailed & thorough Complete and Limited inspections as well as local and complete treatments and structure fumigation depending on your needs.

Complete Inspections:
Sellers & Realtors:
Many experienced agents and careful sellers request a pre-listing inspection to find any possible issues that may compromise the sale of a property in escrow.

Here are some of the advantages of getting a pre-listing inspection before putting your property up for sale on the MLS:
Correct infestations, damage and defects prior to listing
Maximize your sell price and improve appeal of property
Better appeal and conditions against similar listings
Widen & increase prospective buyers interest
Improve asking and selling price of home for sale
Disclose infestations, damage and defects to price accordingly
Lessen chances of losing interested buyers to other sales.

Buyers & Lenders:
Most buyers, realtors and lenders recommend or request a termite inspection at time of making an offer and prior to removing contingencies to find if there are any infestations and costly repairs to be expected or planned.

Here are some of the advantages to getting a purchase inspection:
Know condition of structure with infestations, damage and deficiencies
Expose condition of property and potential costs of treatment, repairs or replacement
Request correction prior to close of escrow or credit for costs to be incurred
Improve negotiating leverage to lessen listing price for a lower purchase price
Allows buyers to reconsider and withdraw their offer in case of doubt or high repair costs
Permits prospective buyers to compare known conditions with other similar properties

Our inspections are fair, straight to the point, detailed and thorough. Our reports list active infestations (section 1 items), issues conducive to infestation (section 2), inaccessible areas in need of further inspection (section 3) and relevant informational items (section 4). Each item addressed is followed with a recommendation and the cost of some items may be estimated upon request.

Most reports are faxed and/or emailed (PDF format) the following business day and and a hard copy is sent via US mail upon request. "Complete Inspections and Reports" start at $300 and depending upon the type, size and location of the structure to be inspected.

Limited Inspections:  As a homeowner, whether you witnessed an active infestation or want to periodically check if there are any currently damaging your home. We offer competitive pricing for a Limited Inspections and provide a detailed report addressing not only specific areas of concerns but other issue that may lead to infestations

Here are some of the advantages to getting a periodic limited inspection:
Find and correct hidden infestations and damage before costly repairs are incurred
Expose conditions that may lead to infestations, deterioration and damage
Obtain treatment and repair options from professional inspectors with years of experience
Compare prices, warranties and quality of work provided with other companies
Determine what priorities need to be addressed first and what can be deferred
Correct deficiencies or inadequacies before they lead to infestation and damage
Get  informative recommendations for preserving your home and preventing infestations

We provide valuable and quality service with decades of experiences in professional construction, entomology, integrated pest management, technological and chemical knowledge. We perform thorough and detailed inspections and deliver clear and concise quality reports that include detailed diagnosis and specific recommendations backed with custom warranties.

Free Inspections: Some of the larger corporations or franchised companies offer so-called "Free Inspections" as a marketing tool and incentive to attract a wide variety of clients. The cost of all these free inspections is passed onto clients through a higher price for treatments and repairs, including the cost of other inspections that did not result in work.

Marin Termite Control believes that you should not have to incur the cost of other's inspections. We do not provide free inspection due to operational costs and expenses and charge a nominal and reasonable fee for providing you with a thorough inspection, detailed report and the extra time we take to provide you with all the relevant and correct information to allow you to make the right decision.

We provide our customers with the best service, treatment, repairs and follow-through in the industry. Our inspectors don't cut corners, speed through inspections or give standard marketing speeches to give the illusion of free services for a higher price. Marin Termite is a family owned company where you won't be treated just like another client. With Marin Termite you can count on personalized care and you will always remain our local and valued customer.


Fumigations:  For extensive Drywood Termite infestation, we provide tenting and fumigation of residential and commercial structures with Vikane Sulfuryl Fluoride and we offer a 3 year warranty on fumigated structures. Upon request, a fumigation schedule and checklist is sent to you and our workmen will check the structure is prepared for the fumigation and clear of any visible Drywood Termite pellets.

Perimeter Treatments: For Subterranean Termite infestations, we provide a complete perimeter chemical treatment to residential and commercial structures with Altriset or Termidor termiticides and we offer a 5-year warranty against re-infestation of Subterranean Termites to perimeter-treated structures. Treatment consists of establishing a complete underground termiticide barrier along the entire perimeter of the house.

Local-Spot Treatments: When feasible, small Wood Boring Beetle and Drywood Termite infestations may be treated locally. This is a Secondary Substandard Control Measure and the treatment consists of drilling a series of small holes in the infested and adjacent wood members and injecting termiticide (Altriset, Termidor,  Tim-Bor, BoraCare or Orange Oil). Pricing for local/spot treatment is competitive; however warranty may be limited for local treatments as infestations may extend into untreated or inaccessible areas.

Perimeter Treatments: 5 year warranty against Subterranean Termites with complete perimeter treatments.
Drywood Fumigations: 3-year warranty against Drywood Termites to fumigated structures.
Local Spot Treatments: Limited warranty depending on accessibility and size of infestation.

Questions? Give us a call at (415) 456-9620 ~ (415) 388-2375 or (415) 883-8425

Friday, March 29, 2019


We all want a healthier environment; organic foods, natural products, better air quality, clean water and fewer pesticides. No wonder many ask us if and how can pests be eliminated without using harmful pesticides.
Along with green construction, sustainable pest control is achievable but does require a new way of thinking, planning and building. It also means a little more maintenance and using natural products, low-impact and ecologically sound materials when necessary. In other words: “Working with nature rather than fighting it.”

Green Construction: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Consult first with your architect, contractor and pest control operator to avoid creating or leaving existing conditions that lead to infestations.
Good drainage in and around structures to prevent moisture intrusion and water pooling in crawl spaces
Moisture membranes and concrete soil covers to keep sub-areas dry, clean and unwelcoming to pests
Sufficient Ventilation in enclosed areas to prevent stagnant and unhealthy air leading to mildew and mold
Adequate elevation and grading away from the structure to prevent earth-wood contacts and faulty grades
Ample roof overhangs, flashings, gutters, downspouts and drain lines to prevent leaks and deterioration
Proper flashing and joints around exterior doors, windows, siding and trim to prevent moisture intrusion
Borate based pre-treatment (Bora-Care or Tim-Bor) of exposed wood and foundations before enclosures
Complying with and exceeding state and local building ordinances for a healthier and safer home
Concrete cover with
sump pump in subarea
Proper drainage with concrete  foundation above grade
and concrete cover in crawl spaces
Bora-Care or Tim-Bor pre-treatments
prior to wall and floor enclosure

Sustainable Maintenance:Use nature's lessons and allies to your advantage”. Once completed discourage nature's invaders and maintain the structure and its surroundings inhospitable to pests.
Maintain the structure's exterior siding and trim sealed, painted and watertight.
Keep and trim vines, trees, shrubs and vegetation away to promote air movement and a dry environment
Don't pile, store, build or lay material, plants or added buildings against the exterior of the structure
Keep sprinklers and other irrigation systems from watering against or near the structure.
Don't add planter beds, stone facia, brick veneer or raise soil grade against the exterior siding
Keep ventilators unobstructed to promote air movement and replace torn ones to keep rodents out
Clean and clear roofs, gutters, downspouts and drain lines, particularly during fall, winter and spring
Have your sump pumps, drain lines and plumbing checked and serviced to prevent leaks and moisture
Keep all areas dry and clean to discourage common pests (ants, flies, beetles, fleas, termites, etc.)
Know friends and chase away foes: Spiders, birds, lizards, and some beetles are all pest predators
Use non-toxic traps or repellents to avoid secondary wildlife poisoning (e.g. birds of pray and reptiles)
When using retail available products, always follow the label never exceeding recommendations
Consult with a licensed professional before adding, remodeling or modifying any improvements
Call to get a periodic pest inspection by a State Licensed Professional to discover infestations early
Wood decay damage (dry rot) caused by moisture intrusion from faulty or missing flashing
Water in subareas without drainage lead to mold, wood decay, termite & beetle infestations
Severe termite & wood decay damage caused by adjacent planter bed and faulty grade

Low Impact Pest Control: Nature is tenacious and in spite of the above recommendations it may still find ways to infest. Gone are the days of creosote, chlordane and such other pesticides that were common around homes. Decades of public awareness, research and development have lead to more target specific and safer products eliminating pests without affecting occupants, the local ecosystem or surrounding environment.

Bora-Care & Tim-Bor are made from naturally
occuring sodium borate found in Boron California
Altriset is a non-repellent termiticide with a toxicity level lower than salt or orange oil
Termidor-SC Odorless products affect termites not adjacent plants

Marin Termite recommends following the above recommendations first and uses the following products once infestations do occur: Natural inorganics (Bora-Care, TimBor, clays, diatomaceous earth, salts), colorless and odorless non-repellents (Termidor & Altriset) that have no effect on plant life and minimal impact on the environment.

Call 456-9620 and ask for one of our licensed inspectors to schedule an inspection.