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If My Home’s Timber-Frame Remains Free Of Moisture Am I Safe From Termite Attacks?

It is often claimed that termites require high-moisture conditions in order to survive, but this claim may seem dubious considering that several subterranean termite species have no problem surviving within Arizona’s exceptionally dry desert soil. While not all of the termite species in Arizona are considered pests to structures, the entire state is located within a geographic region where termite pest activity is considered moderate to heavy, and termites are considered the most significant indoor insect pests within the state.

Since termites are clearly abundant in the Sonoran Desert region of Arizona, they must find water somewhere. Since the sandy desert surface is cleary bereft of moisture, subterranean termites are able to establish colonies located far below the ground surface where adequate moisture can be found. The arid land subterranean termite species maintains a habitat in particular areas where soil contains a bit more moisture than can be found within the barren sandy landscapes that most people picture when thinking of the Sonoran Desert. This species can be found in nearly all areas of the state. The desert subterranean termite is the only subterranean termite species in Arizona that can withstand periods of drought within the hottest areas of the state. This species is the most common termite pest found within structures in Arizona, but unlike the arid land subterranean termite species, the desert subterranean termite species can only be found in the southern half of the state.

Subterranean termite species in Arizona can attack new homes where lumber is dry, as these species construct mud tubes that connect the ground soil to indoor structural wood. These mud tubes provide subterranean termites with direct access to soil where they can readily quench their thirst. Subterranean termites can establish a permanent infestation within indoor wood sources that have become heavily saturated with water due to plumbing leaks or seepage from rain water, making repeated trips to soil unnecessary.

Drywood and dampwood termite species do not make contact with soil; instead, colonies maintain a constant presence within single wood items, such as dead trees and logs. However, the swarming termites (alates) that emerge annually from drywood and dampwood termite colonies often squeeze into small cracks and pores within any area of a home’s wood exterior where they proceed to establish infestations that usually spread into a home’s interior timber-frame. Since these termites do not extract water from the soil, they can only survive within wood that contains adequate moisture levels. Most homes in Arizona contain wood that is moist enough to support drywood termite colonies, but dampwood termites require more water in order to establish an infestation, making dampwood termite infestations relatively rare in Arizona.

Were you aware that dampwood termites could infest homes in Arizona?

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How Do Drywood And Dampwood Termites Come To Infest Valued Wooden Objects And Structural Timbers If They Don’t Forage Away From Their Nests?

How Do Drywood And Dampwood Termites Come To Infest Valued Wooden Objects And Structural Timbers If They Don’t Forage Away From Their Nests?

It is well known that termites are divided into three different groups that are known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. It is also widely known that subterranean termites are responsible for the majority of termite infestations within structures. In the United States, subterranean termites are responsible for more than 80 percent of all termite infestations in homes and buildings. The most destructive subterranean termite species in the country include the native eastern subterranean termite, the invasive Formosan subterranean termite and western subterranean termite.

Like all social insects, termites live within colonies that are divided into different social castes. Unlike subterranean termite colonies, drywood and dampwood termite colonies do not contain workers that forage below the ground. While all three termite groups contain reproductive swarmers (alates) that establish new colonies as queens and kings, most termite infestations occur when foraging workers locate a structural wood source below the ground. Reproductive alates can also establish infestations by swarming directly to wood sources, but infestations rarely begin this way, as 99 percent of alates die before mating. Since both drywood and dampwood termite colonies do not have a worker caste, only alates can establish infestations. Therefore, drywood and dampwood termite species do not access wood sources nearly as often as subterranean termites.

Generally, termites only swarm once a year during a one to three month period, which gives drywood and dampwood species little chance of establishing infestations within structural wood sources. This explains why subterranean termite infestations occur far more frequently than drywood and dampwood infestations. Drywood termite infestations are common in the southwest, as western drywood termite populations are high within urban and residential areas in the region, particularly in metropolitan areas of Arizona. It should also be noted that drywood termite colonies can move into homes if they infest tree branches that make contact with a home’s structural wood. Many drywood termite infestations start this way, and it explains why so many drywood termite infestations are found on the roofs of houses in the southwest.

Have you ever located a termite-infested tree within or on your property?

 

 

 

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The Elevation Of Urban And Residential Areas Of Arizona Determines When Termite Swarms Emerge

The Elevation Of Urban And Residential Areas Of Arizona Determines When Termite Swarms Emerge

At least 45 termite species have been documented as inhabiting the United States, and 30 of these species are known to inflict damage to structural wood or wood products. While Arizona is home to 17 termite species, only five are considered species of serious economic importance. In addition to causing a greater amount of property damage than any other pest species in the world, termites can also be a nuisance to homeowners. While subterranean and drywood termite workers are responsible for locating and initiating destructive indoor infestations, termite swarmers (alates) can annoy homeowners during the spring and early summer seasons, as swarms are of significant size and they often emerge in residential and urban areas where some species gravitate toward porch lights and street lights.

Termite swarms emerge when queen termites secrete pheromones that prompt reproductive alates to take flight from existing colonies. These swarms are comprised of male and female alates that attempt to find a mate in order to establish new colonies in areas where termites may not normally pose a threat to the structural integrity of homes and buildings. Fortunately, about 99 percent of swarming alates die before establishing a new colony as queen and king. Unfortunately, the alates that do survive often establish new colonies near the artificial light sources that lure them into human-populated areas.

There exists three subterranean termite species in Arizona that are considered highly destructive pests. One of these species, the arid-land subterranean termite, naturally inhabits unpopulated desert regions where they feed on vegetation. One reason as to why this species is becoming progressively more destructive is because new homes and buildings are being built over land where these termites are abundant. When structural developments remove their natural food source, the termites naturally turn to structural wood as their primary source of sustenance. This explains why swarms are so common within and near new homes in Arizona. While experts state that arid-land subterranean termite swarms occur in between the months of January and March, this is not always the case, as swarms emerge at different times of year depending on the elevation where colonies are established. In urban and residential areas below 4,000 feet in Arizona, residents can expect swarms to emerge during the winter and early spring seasons, but at elevations higher than 4,000 feet, arid land subterranean termites swarm during June and July.

Have you ever witnessed a termite swarm in your neighborhood?

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Termite Warning Signs | Phoenix Termite Control

Termite Warning Signs | Phoenix Termite Control

Magic Pest offers the following signs that termites may be present in a home:

  1. Mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home.
  2. Soft wood in the home that sounds hollow when tapped.
  3. Darkening or blistering of wood structures.
  4. Cracked or bubbling paint.
  5. Small piles of feces that resemble sawdust near a termite nest.
  6. Discarded wings near doors or on windowsills, indicating swarmers have entered the home or swarmers themselves, which are often mistaken for flying ants.

Phoenix Termite Control Experts. Call Today For A Free Inspection!

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Are Homes Built On Concrete Slabs More Or Less Vulnerable To Termite Attacks?

Termites are easily the most destructive pests in the world, and it is well known that the insects inflict billions of dollars in damages to structures each year within the United States. Due to the increasing destruction being caused by termites each year in the country, more and more homeowners are choosing to have their houses inspected for the wood-eating pests on a regular basis.

Aside from the fact that termites enjoy eating structural wood, the average homeowner knows very little about termites. For example, most homeowners are not able to recognize wood that has been damaged by termites, and most homeowners would not be able to spot an active termite infestation within their home even if the affected area were within plane sight. This is understandable, after all, termites are among the stealthiest of all insect groups. Structural wood that has undergone years of termite damage can be hard to notice, as termites consume wood fibers beneath the surface of structural lumber where entire colonies remain invisible. Since the most destructive group of termites, subterranean termites, forage unseen beneath the soil’s surface, anticipating termite attacks on homes and other structures is next to impossible. Therefore, it would be wise for residents to recognize certain structural features that may make their home vulnerable to termite infestations.

Many homeowners believe that the concrete slab that their home is built on serves as a barrier that prevents termites from accessing their home’s structural wood, but this is not necessarily the case. When it comes to modern home construction, concrete slabs may be the norm, but they actually make homes more vulnerable to termite infestations in the long-run. This is because concrete slabs eventually develop cracks that termites can easily travel through in order to access structural wood above. In fact, termites have more than enough room to travel through concrete openings around plumbing in newly built homes, and the condensation that forms on the external surface of pipes serves to attract thirsty termites to the vulnerable area. A termiticide chemical barrier is often applied to a bare property before concrete slabs are laid in order to prevent termites from breaching the slab after a home is built.

Can you pinpoint any structural imperfections on your home that put it at risk of becoming infested with subterranean termites?

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Which Termite Species Are Arizona Homeowners Most Likely To Encounter During The Summer Season

Which Termite Species Are Arizona Homeowners Most Likely To Encounter During The Summer Season

Entomologists and pest control experts consider termites to be Arizona’s number one urban insect pest. Numerous termite species inhabit the state, but there are three particular subterranean termite species that Arizona residents are most likely to encounter within their homes. The arid land subterranean termites habitat in Arizona is largely limited to the southwestern portion of the state. These termites are an important ecological component to the Sonoran desert ecosystem where they are often found infesting creosote and greasewood bushes. One of the main reasons why the rate of termite infestations is high in Arizona is because housing developments are constructed over these desert landscapes. The desert subterranean termite is, perhaps, the most common termite pest found infesting Arizona homes, but they are not as abundant in urban and suburban areas of the state as Gnathamitermes perplexus termites are. Despite this, the little-known Gnathamitermes perplexus termite species rarely infests homes.

The Gnathamitermes perplexus termite species is considered a “true” desert termite species for their habit of consuming a variety of desert plant species. These termites even consume dead grass, weeds and palm trees, and in some cases, these termites are found infesting fence posts, utility posts, mailboxes and in rare cases, a home’s structural wood. Although Gnathamitermes perplexus is the most abundant termite species inhabiting southern Arizona, they rarely infest homes. Both the body length of mature adult swarmers of this species and their wingspan grow to be around three fourths of an inch in length. These termites are brown and color and can be seen swarmin during the daylight hours after a heavy rainstorm. These termites are quite similar in appearance to desert subterranean termites, but soldiers belonging to the  Gnathamitermes perplexus are unique for possessing a lone tooth within their curved jaws. This tooth is looked for when identifying termites in Arizona.

Have you ever found a termite, or several, eating dead grass or plant matter?

 

 

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Dampwood Termites In Arizona Can Attack Living Citrus Trees And Spread Fungal Decay

Arizona is home to a wide variety of termite species from the subterranean, drywood and dampwood groups. The most economically costly termites in Arizona, subterranean termites, have adapted to foraging below the hard and dry desert soil, and drywood termites, most notably the western drywood termite, is right at home in Arizona, as these termites, as their name suggests, both live within and feed upon single pieces of dry wood with low moisture levels. Unlike most termite species in the United States, Subterranean termites in Arizona and drywood termites in general do not require excessive amounts of water in order to survive. However, this is not the case when it comes to dampwood termites, as these aptly named termites only feed on wood sources with relatively high moisture levels. It is for this reason that dampwood termite species are particularly abundant along the rainy west coast, particularly in the state of Washington. It is often claimed that dampwood termites do not exist within Arizona and other parts of the arid Sonoran Desert, but this is false, as Arizona is home to three dampwood termite species. Unlike most termite species, dampwood termites in Arizona infest living trees, especially citrus trees, and some studies show that dampwood termites can facilitate the spread of fungal decay to new sources of wood.

One Arizona termite species, the desert dampwood termite, is a misnomer, as this species is actually a soil-dwelling subterranean termite species. The most widespread and damaging dampwood species in Arizona is the Arizona dampwood termite, while the Pacific dampwood termite and the Nevada dampwood termite are encountered far less often in the state. Dampwood termites are much larger than their subterranean and drywood counterparts, as swarming alates grow to be 2 inches in length, and soldiers and workers grow to be an inch and a half and an inch in length, respectively. Much like drywood termites, dampwood termites don’t typically dwell within soil, but they often infest damp wood that makes contact with soil, and similar to subterranean termites, dampwood termites often infest wooden posts at or below the soil’s surface in order to retain moisture. Although dampwood termites are not a serious concern in Arizona, they can annoy homeowners when they infest baseboards and waterlogged wood sources around homes. In order to retain the high amount of water they need to survive, dampwood termites extract water from the sap of citrus trees, which often damages the trees. Since dampwood termites prefer to feed on moist, decayed and waterlogged wood, they often consume wood that has grown fungi. After feeding on fungi-infested wood, it has been suggested that dampwood termites spread fungal spores to new wood sources.

Have you ever found wet wood that appeared to be damaged by termites?

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How Arizona Residents Can Tell The Difference Between A Subterranean Termite Infestation And A Drywood Termite Infestation

How Arizona Residents Can Tell The Difference Between A Subterranean Termite Infestation And A Drywood Termite Infestation

Termite species are divided into three categories: Subterranean termites, drywood termites, and dampwood termites. Unfortunately, Arizona is home to termite species from all three of these categories. There exists a few termite pest species in Arizona that are classified as drywood and subterranean termites, but only one dampwood species is active in the state. The most damaging subterranean termite species in the state include the arid land subterranean termite and the desert subterranean termite. The two most significant drywood species in the state include the dark western drywood termite and the light western drywood termite. All four of the above named species attack structures in great frequency in most areas of Arizona, particularly within the southern half of the state. There exists many ways for a homeowner to distinguish between drywood and dampwood termite species and the types of damage these species inflict on a home’s structural wood.

Subterranean termites are larger than drywood termites in terms of body size, and this goes for both swarmers (alates) and workers. However, most residents who discover termite damage in their home are unlikely to see individual worker termites, as they are active beneath the surface of wood where they remain out of sight for nearly all hours of the day. Unlike drywood termites, subterranean termites must make regular contact with ground soil for nourishment. In order to travel back and forth between structural wood and the soil, these termites build mud tubes that are usually visible along one or more sides of a home’s foundation. Drywood termite infestations may be relatively more difficult to notice, as they remain within wood at all times, making mud tubes unnecessary for these termites. But unlike subterranean termite infestations, drywood termite infestation can normally be pinpointed by finding piles of dry fecal pellets near areas of structural wood. Subterranean termites do not leave behind these fecal pellets, as they expel liquid waste within soil. Although subterranean termites are typically more widespread and destructive than subterranean termites, this is not the case in most western US states where experts consider the dark western drywood termite to be the most significant termite pest in the region, especially in Arizona.

Have you ever witnessed a termite swarm near your home?

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A Termite-Ravaged Fire Station Will Soon Be Replaced By A New Building, And A Community Nearly Loses Electrical Power Due To Termites

Back in 1970, a fire station was built to serve residents of the small towns of Pine and Strawberry located in Gila County. This fire station, which residents call “the shack”, is made entirely of wood and it was not constructed to withstand termite infestations. Residents and officials in the Pine-Strawberry District have long known that a termite infestation has compromised the building’s structural integrity. The structure’s wood flooring and timber support beams have been damaged extensively by termites, which has rendered the building uninhabitable. In response to the damage, residents voted in favor of building an entirely new fire station, which will likely be finished within a month or two, well ahead of schedule. The new structure has been expertly built to minimize the chances of another termite infestation from taking form within the structure. For example, the new building will be outfitted with a steel roof, and a termiticide barrier was likely applied within the soil surrounding the structure. Not far away from the Pine-Strawberry District, termite activity nearly resulted in a widespread power outage four years ago in Payson.

In East Verde Park, a homeowner’s cherry tree grew to the point where the trunk wrapped around the support wires holding up a power-pole. This became an urgent issue after officials learned that the tree had become seriously weakened by a termite infestation. The tree looked as though it was ready to topple over, and if the tree had fallen over, it would have taken the power-pole down with it, resulting in expensive damage and a loss of power. Officials were not about to let termites rob the surrounding residential area of electrical power, so with the property owner’s permission, the infested and dead tree was carefully removed without harming the power-pole. It is not uncommon for termites to attack dead fruit trees, and the dark western drywood termite was the species most likely responsible for the tree infestation.

Have you ever found termites infesting a tree or a termite damaged tree?

 

 

 

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How To Know If A Particular Home In Arizona Has Ever Been Infested With Termites, And Do New Homes In The State Require Preventative Termite Treatment?

How To Know If A Particular Home In Arizona Has Ever Been Infested With Termites, And Do New Homes In The State Require Preventative Termite Treatment?

Both drywood and subterranean termite species exist within Arizona, but subterranean termites are far more destructive to homes and buildings than drywood termite species in the state. The most destructive termite species in Arizona is the desert subterranean termite, and they are particularly abundant in the southern half of the state. Due to Arizona’s mild winters and picturesque landscapes, the state’s population continues to grow. Most people who move to Arizona likely plan to buy a home, and certain areas of the state contain many vacation homes that are frequently purchased by “snow-birds” who spend most of the year in other states. Understandably, it is important to investigate a house’s history of termite infestations and damage before purchasing a home in Arizona. Luckily, it is not hard to access a house’s history of termite-related issues, as all termite inspections carried out within Arizona homes are documented and made available to the public.

When a house is inspected for termites in Arizona, the pest controller specifically records their findings in Termite Action Report Form (TARF). This form is then submitted to the state’s Pest Management Division (PMD) so that it can be viewed by anyone with an interest in purchasing a home in Arizona. However, a particular home’s TARF is only available for public viewing for a period of three years, and after this time span, records are no longer available to members of the public. In order to search for a particular Arizona home’s TARF, the home’s address can be typed into a search bar on the Arizona Department of Agriculture website. Although homes in Arizona are not required by law to be inspected for termites before being sold on the market, lending agencies in the state will not issue loans to home-buyers unless a termite inspection report is submitted to them. Also, most new homes in Arizona are built with a surrounding termiticide barrier that prevents subterranean termites from accessing properties.

Do you think that termite infestation rates will increase in Arizona has more homes are built on termite-rich desert land?