Arizona’s mild winters have a downside – they’re nothing to an established colony of termites. While they may slow their destructive ways in colder climates, they don’t take a break here. So, neither should we.   

To that end, the pest control professionals at Insectek offer the following primer on the three types of termites most commonly found in Arizona. Since each species behaves differently and causes a different level of damage, it helps to know which type is attacking your home. With proper identification, you’ll have a better shot at spotting a potential infestation and getting it successfully treated. 

Desert Subterranean Termites

What Do They Look Like?

Each termite is part of a group, or caste, depending on what job it does for the colony. As with most species, we can identify castes by appearance and size: Workers are cream-colored, those called reproductives (because their job is to reproduce) are yellowish-brown and usually have wings, while soldiers are larger with protruding mouthparts.

Behavior

Unlike most other species of termites, desert subterranean termites are able to live in dry conditions, which makes them well-suited for Arizona’s arid landscape. They’re also unique in that they build tubes that hang from the ceiling, some as long as 6 to 12 inches. And because of their small size, they can penetrate smaller cracks in concrete and masonry that are too narrow for foragers of other subterranean termites. In addition to those hanging tubes, signs of infestation include damaged wood that is soft and honeycombed in appearance, with hollow sections packed with mud, and partially digested wood.  

How to Prevent an Infestation

Take heed of the following to deter desert subterranean termites:

  • Earth-to-wood contact: Keep wood at least 12 inches off the ground and any woodpiles away from walls of homes or other structures. 
  • Dead cactus: Be sure to remove them if near your home or business, because in a testament to desert living, termites can turn an old, dead cactus into an ersatz apartment. 
  • Ground moisture: Be aware of puddles, as well as leaky pipes or air-conditioners. In Arizona, many types of termites swarm during monsoon season.
  • Foundation cracks and seams: If you can see ‘em, seal ‘em. Remember, desert subterranean termites are smaller than most other species, and therefore require smaller openings to invade structures such as your home or business.

Arid-Land Subterranean Termites

What Do They Look Like?

Chances are you’ve seen an arid-land subterranean termite before because they are the most common termites in Arizona. Their color ranges from dark brown to black, and they have translucent wings. But their appearance can differ slightly, depending on their caste. Soldiers have long mandibles and workers are lighter in color.

Behavior

Arid-land subterranean termites, specifically the workers, spend the majority of their time foraging for wood. They’re believed to be the most damaging termites in Arizona. Despite this, they aren’t as damaging to homes as other kinds of subterranean termites. They typically attack greasewood and creosote.

How to Prevent an Infestation

  • Damp dirt: Make sure areas near your home or business are well-drained. 
  • Moist decaying wood: Dispose of any promptly. 
  • Canyons, rivers, and high altitudes: If you live in or near one of these habitats, it’s especially critical that you familiarize yourself with this type of termite. 
  • Creosote bush: Also called greasewood. If you live near these, be on the lookout for this type of termite. Once it runs out of creosote to feed on, it could attack your home or other timber structures. 

Western Drywood Termites

What Do They Look Like?

Western drywood termites are the most common species of drywood termites in the Southwestern U.S. They have a dark brown abdomen with an orange-brown head, white eyes, and smokey-black wings. Soldiers have a brown head and mouthparts that extend out far from their head.

Behavior

Western drywood termites exhibit behaviors that are quite different from other termites. They don’t live underground or build mud tubes; instead, they tend to live in non-decayed wood that has very little moisture content. Also, they eat wood across the grain; and they cause a lot of damage, as they can form multiple colonies in one structure. Another unique thing about western drywood termites is that they lack a worker caste—those roles are typically performed by nymphs prior to maturation. 

How to Prevent an Infestation

  • Keep scrap- or firewood at least 20 feet from your home. 
  • Carefully inspect all furniture before bringing it in your home. Drywood termites might just be hitching a ride. 
  • Again, seal up cracks that could allow bugs or other pests in your home. 
  • These termites, as well as many other species, will eat anything containing cellulose. That includes wood, as well as things like carpet, cardboard, and sheetrock. 

Get Professional Help From Insectek

Insectek is the Phoenix area’s highest-rated pest control company! That’s because of our knowledgeable and experienced staff, our use of EPA-approved and Green products, and our knack for customizing preventative pest control solutions for our clients. Most of all, it’s because our pest control services yield results. Contact us today to fight off all kinds of pests, including termites.

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