Termites Stump Silicon Valley Homeowners

Bugs leftover from orchard past use underground tunnels to get into walls.

By Damian Trujillo
|  Tuesday, Nov 22, 2011  |  Updated 6:37 AM PDT
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Bugging Out

Homes should be inspected for termites every three years, an exterminator recommends.

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Before the tech giants moved into the Silicon Valley, the region was known as The Valley of Heart’s Delight.

The legacy orchards in the South Bay probably have contributed to the moniker. Those orchards left behind, quite possibly, termite havens, much to the chagrin of homeowners.

“The fall colors took over the whole valley. Then the spring colors, and I think that’s what gave rise to the name The Valley of Heart’s Delight, because the blossoms all the way across the valley were visible from any high spot,” said David Cortese, a county supervisor whose family used to own hundreds of acres of orchards.

The fruits from the valley orchards helped feed the military outpost at the Presidio of Monterey.

The orchards were eventually cut down to give way to neighborhoods now known as Evergreen, Blossom Valley, and others. But something that stayed behind in the roots of those trees is now stumping homeowners: subterranean termites.

“Once they’re done eating the root systems, they can make tunnels and go right up your walls from the ground and get to your wood underneath the structure,” said Larry Bragg, an inspector with Clark Pest Control.

His team was treating a home in Milpitas on Monday, a home with subterranean termites.

They were drilling half-inch holes into the concrete to get to their chemicals into the termite colonies beneath the home.

No known studies have been conducted to look into the relationship between subterranean termites, old orchard land, and the homes that now sit on the valley floor.

But several exterminators have told NBC Bay Area that homes now sitting on land that was once part of an orchard, are susceptible to subterranean termites.

“The best defense is getting your home inspected on a regular basis, about every 3 years,” said Bragg.

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