I live in a condo in LA (3rd floor) and am seemingly the only resident with termite problems. Last summer (2020), I had 3 separate areas infested with winged drywood termites - the ones with a reddish head, black body, and wings (through a mud hole in master bedroom closet wood frame, coming out of living room wall by baseboard, flying into kitchen window), which eventually went away after an orange oil treatment. The area I am writing about is in one of my Office closets where little white ants (I'm assuming they're drywood termites nymphs as the other termites were drywood termites) keep appearing around and coming out of the floorboards of that area (see photo - the pink slips are post-its where I number each body as I was losing track of which bodies were new/old). They're about the size of 1-2 cm and almost look like lint sometimes.

White termites coming from baseboards of closet

close up of white termite

I've spoken with my HOA numerous times and they put up flyers asking if other residents are having termite issues. The HOA told me that only one other unit said they had termite issues in the past, but it didn't sound recent. I also personally asked my neighbor above, below, and across from me and they said they didn't see any. The HOA won't fumigate the building as they said it's difficult to get all homeowners to agree to it and it's expensive. They helped to schedule the termite company to come and do a spot treatment (orange oil) and since the HOA CC&R documents don't have any explicit rules around pest control, they split the cost with me. In total, I've now had 2 orange oil treatments for this area and last time the termite guy also applied Cy-Kick as well. It is now January 2021 and I am still seeing new termites appear (1-3 per day) but they die on their own. Over the course of 2 months, around 35 termites have appeared. I do not see any frass (termite poop), there are no mud tunnels that I can see, nor does this area seem weak.

I have a 1 year warranty with the termite company who applied the 2 orange oil treatments and asked him what I can do. He said it's difficult because he does not know where the source is, but said he could apply "foam" this time.

I'm having another termite company come this weekend for another opinion. Oddly enough, I reached out to a 3rd termite company and sent them photos and they said that these were NOT termites. What the heck are they then?? If I can't fumigate, what are my options? I don't want to get lawyers involved. I just don't want to have these bugs anymore!

another picture of white termites

  • There's not any good photo of the insect among any of the ones you posted, so identification may be difficult from here. But the one photo that is even halfway decent, doesn't look like a termite to me, so the one company might be right about that. If these are termites, they won't live very long on their own...they'll just dry out without the support of their nest. But they'll keep coming until the nest is dealt with. Of course, that could be true of any number of other types of subterranean/nesting insects as well (except ants...but these definitely don't look like ants). Jan 16, 2021 at 4:12
  • Anyway...there's a lot of "story" in your post that should be edited out, since it's not really helpful in answering the question. You should also avoid posting photos that aren't good enough quality to contribute to answering the question. Jan 16, 2021 at 4:13
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    I have had success using my own 'red oil.' I put automatic transmission fluid (ATF) into a spray bottle and spray corners and edges. Carpenter ants would eat the aromatic oil, then be poisoned by the metals and additives. It could be effective against other bugs.
    – John Canon
    Jan 16, 2021 at 9:15
  • Hello, and welcome to Home Improvement. If an answer is helpful, please click the large check mark next to it to accept. And, please take our tour so you'll know the details of contributing here. Jan 18, 2021 at 3:36

1 Answer 1


What the heck are they...?

Those look very much like Western Drywood Termites

If I can't fumigate, what are my options?

Spot treatments do work, and there are several types of spot treatment (local poisoning, freezing, electrocution...). Effectiveness is variable and depends on ability to locate the termite galleries and nest. If it were me I would start my own search for "kick-out" holes (the little holes that are used for termites to eject frass from their galleries) and use consumer termite poison liberally to start killing them off. probing with a thin awl can help you find galleries.

Fumigation (or other "whole house" treatment; there is a method to heat up the structure and "cook" them, also) is truly the only way to ensure that all have been killed.

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