Types of Arizona termites…what’s eating at your home?
Subterranean termites in general are the most common type found in the Phoenix area (below 4000 feet) and they tend to cause the most damage.
Two species in particular…Reticulitermes (Eastern Subterranean) and Heterotermes (native species) are most often found at homes with active infestations and damage. “Desert termites,” (Gnathamitermes and Wheeler termites) generate a lot of calls and concern among homeowners and are seldom a threat to damage your home.
Eastern Subterranean termites are found across the United States and generate the bulk of the $2 billion dollars in termite damage every year. These termites swarm in the spring at night usually after a heavy rain. Above 4000 feet they are the most common subterranean termite in Arizona. Experienced termite inspectors can quickly identify this termite by the larger, more flat termite tubes this species constructs on stem walls or through large expansion joints.
Our native species (Heterotermes) is the more common subterranean termite found in the Sonoran Desert region. They adapt well to our dry conditions and usually swarm during the monsoon season after heavy rains. Native termites migrate to areas and soil with higher than average moisture and will often nest under concrete slabs. This species is the smallest of all termites found in Arizona and its small size gives it the ability to invade a home through small stress cracks and expansion joints. Native termites is the only species in Arizona that constructs “drop tubes,” often seen hanging from ceiling joists. Experienced termite inspectors will distinguish this species by their smaller, rounder, stronger, and airtight shelter tubes.
Desert termites tend to generate the most calls and concerns from Phoenix area homeowners. This species swarms in the summer and is usually seen building tubes over dead grass, or sheets of mud on wood fences. Desert termites usually surface after rainfall or heavy watering when our desert clay soil is “loosened.” It’s not uncommon to see thin sheets of mud or tubes on Palm trees, Cactus or covering wood debris left on the desert floor. Desert termites seldom invade a home and rarely cause damage.
Light Western Drywood termites are common is pockets of the Valley and can be found throughout the Sonoran Desert below 4000 feet. Dark Western Drywood termites dominate the region above 4000 feet. Western Drywood termites usually swarm in July-August and can be destructive if not detected. This species lives in the wood it consumes and is rarely seen. Experienced termite inspectors can determine the presence of this species by the distinctive droppings and galleries.
If you have…or suspect Arizona termites…the first step is to call an experience exterminator to determine if you have termites…and if those termites are a threat to your home. Not all termites in Arizona are equal. Treatment methods can vary depending upon the invading species. Bill’s Phoenix Termite Control service treats for all types of Arizona termites.