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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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How Arizona Residents Can Tell The Difference Between Nuisance Termites And Wood-Destroying Termites

How Arizona Residents Can Tell The Difference Between Nuisance Termites And Wood-Destroying Termites

Arizona is home to nearly 20 documented termite species, some of which are pests that attack and damage both structural and natural sources of wood, while others are not categorized as pests at all. Most non-pest termite species in Arizona limit their activity to uninhabited areas of the Sonoran Desert where they mostly feed on decaying plant matter. However, there also exists termite species in Arizona that, while not being significant pests to timber-framed structures, are still considered pests due to their habit of annoying residents. These types of insect pests are often referred to as “nuisance pests,” and although these pests are not disease vectors, structural pests or environmental pests, their activity within and around homes and buildings can become so overwhelmingly annoying and difficult to eradicate that the assistance of a pest control professional often becomes necessary. Nuisance insect pests include houseflies, crickets, most ant species, boxelder bugs, ladybugs and moths. The existence of nuisance termite pests is not widely known among the general public, but Arizona is home to two subterranean termite species that are typically categorized as nuisance pests.

The subterranean termite species known as Amitermes wheeleri, or Wheeler’s termite, and Gnathamitermes perplexus are two occasional nuisance termite pests in Arizona that are sometimes referred to as “desert termites,” not to be confused with dampwood and subterranean desert termite species. However, much like structural termite pests, Gnathamitermes perplexus occasionally builds mud tubes on wooden structures, but the damage they cause to structural wood is merely cosmetic at its worst. The Wheeler’s termite species does not construct mud tubes on structures, but they do build a dark-colored nest over tree stumps, the base of mesquite trees and fence posts. Arizona homeowners have mistakenly assumed G. perplexus mud tubes and Wheeler’s termite nests with those made by serious structural termite pests, but nuisance termite pests can be discerned by the lack of damage that they inflict to structural woods. These two termite species can also be a nuisance to residents during their heavy seasonal swarms, which for Wheeler’s termites, occur at dawn and dusk shortly after rainfall, while G. perplexus swarms take place during summer nights after rainfall.

Have you ever discovered a mysterious nest on your property that appeared to be made by insects?

 

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Arizona Is Home To One Of The Most Destructive Termite Species In The US, As Well As Some Rarer Species That Most People Have Never Heard Of

Arizona Is Home To One Of The Most Destructive Termite Species In The US, As Well As Some Rarer Species That Most People Have Never Heard Of

Termites are divided into three groups: drywood, dampwood and subterranean termites. Termites from all three of these groups are well represented in the state of Arizona. While the two most destructive termite species in the United States are generally understood to be eastern and Formosan subterranean termites, Arizona is home to neither of these species; instead, the most destructive termite in Arizona is the desert subterranean termite.

This highly destructive species is limited to the Sonoran Desert region of the southwest US, but experts claim that if it was not for this termite species’ limited desert habitat, it could be the most destructive termite species in the entire country. This is because, unlike the Formosan and eastern subterranean termite species, the desert subterranean termite does not require high-moisture environments in order to survive, and they can tolerate incredibly high temperatures that would kill all other termite species in the US. As a result of this species’ tolerance for these conditions, they can inflict far more damage at a much faster rate to dry forms of structural wood, and they would not need to secure moist conditions in order to do so.

The dark western drywood termite species is also well known for damaging numerous structures every year in Arizona. Considering the dry desert climate in Arizona, it was a surprise to researchers to learn that a water-craving dampwood termite species also exists within the state. This dampwood species is known as the desert dampwood termite, and this is the only dampwood species that inflicts damage to homes and buildings in the state. Although this termite’s habitat is limited to the sandy desert, researchers have found that this species is not well suited for thriving in dry soil. In order to survive, this dampwood species locates damp forms of wood beneath the ground, and they also attack shrubs and citrus trees in order to use the sap from these plants as a source of moisture. The desert dampwood termite is not often found infesting homes and buildings, but they frequently attack and heavily damage utility poles and fences. Most indoor infestations of these termites are limited to the baseboards and door frames of buildings.

Were you aware that a dampwood termite pest species exists in Arizona?

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Are There Termites In Arizona That Infest Residential Trees Before Moving Into Homes?

Termites of the “subterranean” variety are easily the most economically significant wood-eating insects in the world. In America alone it is estimated that subterranean termites are responsible for inflicting around 80 percent of all insect-induced damages to wood-framed structures. In many northern states, the eastern subterranean termite is the only termite species that residents need to worry about. But in hotter southern states, the termite population is more diverse, making drywood and dampwood termite species a threat to many homes in the region.

In Arizona, subterranean termites are considered the most problematic, but many residents do not realize that two species of drywood termite also inflict significant structural damages within the state. These two species are commonly known as the dark western drywood termite and the light western drywood termite, and unfortunately, these termites often infest residential trees before accessing structural timber within homes and buildings.

The dark western drywood (DWD) termite species is the most economically costly drywood termite species in the western US, and they are particularly abundant in the Sonoran Desert region of Arizona. The DWD termite is well known for infesting homes, but these termites also infest a number of trees that are common in residential areas of southern Arizona. The trees most commonly attacked by this species include, Arizona cypress, sycamore, adler, cottonwood, willow, ash, walnut, poplar, eucalyptus and a variety of fruit trees.

All the way back in 1916, a researcher found that around 70 percent of black ash trees in Sabino Canyon had become riddled with both DWD termite damage and LWD termite damage. In addition to damaging the sapwood of these trees, these two drywood species even infested the heartwood, which is unusual for most termite species that are native to the US.

While both of these drywood termite species swarm between May and September all over Arizona state, the DWD species is generally found at higher elevations than the LWD termite species. Considering the frequency with which drywood termites infest residential trees before moving into homes, it is important for all Arizona homeowners to have the trees in their lawn inspected for a termite presence at least once a year.

Have you ever found a termite infested tree?

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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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Why Is Phoenix Considered The Most Bug Infested City In The US?

Why Is Phoenix Considered The Most Bug Infested City In The US?

There are several pest control companies and websites that release annual reports concerning which cities in the United States contain the largest population of a particular insect pest species. Some of these reports list cities that are the most roach infested, bed bug infested or spider infested. Back in January of 2016, Thumbtack.com released a list of the “buggiest” cities in America, and Phoenix was listed at number one. However, this purported claim did not sit well with some residents who had never considered the city that they live in to be particularly “buggy”. But the not so scientific study may have been onto something, as representatives for the website found that Phoenix had the most pest control requests when compared to all other US cities.

After Phoenix was proclaimed the most bug-filled city in America by the website, even the “researchers” who had compiled the data for the list were surprised that Phoenix turned out to be number one. So what makes Phoenix a haven for bugs? One reason may be due to the fact that Arizona is home to high populations of certain insect and spider species that either don’t exist, or are not abundant within other states. For example, although California, New Mexico and Texas all contain many of the same scorpion species that exist in Arizona, the population of California and Texas is much higher than Arizona’s population, making pest control calls more common when taking each state’s population size into account. Arizona also sees swarms of Africanized bees, AKA killer bees, which attack residents on an annual basis. Africanized bees can be found all over the state of Arizona, but only a small portion of neighboring states see Africanized bee swarms. Many people living outside of Arizona assume that the air is too dry for mosquitoes, but the disease-spreading bloodsuckers are a serious public health threat in the state, and several pest controllers are called to homes in Phoenix to address mosquito issues. According to the website, cockroaches were the most common insect pests reported to pest controllers in the city, followed by spiders, ants and termites.

Have you ever needed to contact a pest control professional about a spider infestation within your home?

 

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Why Are Termite Infestations A Major Issue In America’s Fire Stations?

For some reason or another, the rate of termite infestations within fire stations is unusually high. Some experts believe that the disproportionate amount of termite damage inflicted to fire stations may result from firefighters inadvertently transporting termites back to the station after returning from termite infested homes where fires were reported. However, this explanation has a few problems. While termites, especially drywood termites, can spread from location to location by means of infested furniture transport, termites are not known for nesting within clothing where they can be unknowingly transported from place to place. Of course, this is how bed bugs are spread, and this explains why bed bugs are an issue within fire stations, ambulances and hospitals. But this does not explain why termites are a problem within fire stations.

Nearly four years ago, the Delray Beach Fire Station in Florida had to close for fumigations after inspectors discovered an extensive drywood termite infestation within the building. The decision was made to fumigate the whole building after the termites were discovered infesting government offices located on the second story of the building. Almost three years ago, firefighters in Hermosa Beach, Florida were forced to relocate to temporary trailers after inspectors found that a long-running termite infestation within the fire station and the neighboring civic center had weakened the structures to the point of near collapse. In this particular case, fumigations were not sufficient, as a 100 million dollar renovation was required to build a new station as well as a civic center and government offices. Back in 2010, a long-running termite infestation nearly destroyed a fire station in None, Georgia. The cost of building a new station cost taxpayers between 2 and 4 million dollars. A 2006 termite infestation in a Lompoc, California fire station required a fumigation and voters in Halfmoon and Waterford, New York recently rejected a plan to build a new fire station for 13 million dollars, as the existing fire station is no longer safe to occupy due to an extensive termite infestation. Termite infestations in fire stations are also problematic within the country of India, as a recent termite attack on a fire station in Danapith resulted in several important government documents being destroyed by termites as well as the structure itself.

Do you believe that a particular factor makes fire stations particularly vulnerable to termite attacks?

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How The External Climate Influences Nest-Building Behavior In Termites

How The External Climate Influences Nest-Building Behavior In Termites

In regions of Africa, Australia, Asia and South America, termite mounds can be seen for miles across various types of landscapes. Since termite mounds are created by different termite species that are adapted to particular environments, there exists an array of different mound architectural styles. However, upon researching different types of mounds, researchers discovered that the interaction between external and internal mound climates directly affects mound building behavior in termite workers. Therefore, climate serves as a primary factor in determining a mound’s architectural style.

Researchers from Harvard’s engineering and evolutionary biology departments put their heads together in order to unravel some of the mysteries concerning mound building behavior in termites. The researchers discovered that the climatic conditions existing outside of a mound, such as wind speeds and daytime temperature fluctuations, alter the climatic conditions inside of a mound by changing the flow of pheromone odor signals. These pheromone signals are transmitted from a queen termite to workers in order to facilitate the mound building process. Since these pheromone odor cues are blown around by internal air currents, a mound’s internal climate could be an essential component to the ultimate mound-building behaviors exhibited by termite workers. The climate within a mound can be altered into many different forms, resulting in new building behaviors, and ultimately, different architectural mound styles. The study was ultimately showing how external mound climate can explain different mound structural styles.

This research study was exciting for researchers, as it marked one of the few times when researchers were able to demonstrate how environmental physics and animal behavior work together to produce complex structures that can be found everywhere in nature. This study also sheds more light on the topic of swarm intelligence in insects and it may even serve to inspire architects into designing more environmentally friendly buildings in the future.

Do you believe that nesting and shelter structures created by insects offer insights in the field of green architecture?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Most Destructive Termite Species In The Western US May Be Displaced By A New Invasive Species Of Termite

There exists several termite species in the United States that are categorized as “pests to structures.” The most destructive and economically costly termite species in the United States is the eastern subterranean termite. Given the common name of this species, it should not be surprising to learn that eastern subterranean termite colonies become less prevalent in the west. As you may be able to guess, the most destructive termite species within the western coastal states is the western subterranean termite, at least this is what researchers believed until a new termite species was identified as inhabiting the western coast of North America several years ago. This new species is known as Reticulitermes okanaganensis, and while this species has been known as a pest to structures in British Columbia, researchers have only recently learned that this species infests structures ranging across the entirety of the western U.S. coast.

The Reticulitermes okanaganensis termite species is now known to exist within the states of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Nevada. This species has been causing extensive damage to structures in British Columbia for years, but the species was not identified as Reticulitermes okanaganensis until the early 2000s. The damage these termites have been inflicting upon structures in British Columbia is unprecedented in the relatively cold region where most termite species would not be able to survive. When these attacks were at their height in Canada, pest control professionals reported difficulties in eradicating Reticulitermes species from structures in northern California. Now it is believed that Reticulitermes okanaganensis was responsible for many of these infestations, but they could not be easily eradicated as insecticides are not designed to address the unique physiology of this new termite species. Also, much of the structural damage in California that has long been attributed to western subterranean termites may have also been caused by Reticulitermes okanaganensis pest activity. Studies that aim to map this species’ distribution within the US are ongoing.

Do you believe that there exists more termite pest species in the US than researchers are currently aware?

 

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Every Fall Some Residential Regions In The Southwest Are Overrun With Massive Herds Of Migrating Tarantulas

Every Fall Some Residential Regions In The Southwest Are Overrun With Massive Herds Of Migrating Tarantulas

It is well understood by most people that birds and flying insects, like butterflies, migrate south during the fall season in order to avoid the cold of the coming winter in the north. However, airborne animals are not the only organisms that migrate south for the winter, as tarantulas emerge from their burrows during the fall before migrating en masse southward through several towns and neighborhoods in the southwest. As you can imagine, these mass migrations are known for surprising and terrifying sensitive individuals living within the path of the migrating arachnids. In fact, many new homeowners in the southwest who have not spent much, or any time within the region have been known to panic upon witnessing the sudden appearance of thousands of tarantulas stampeding through their property. Pest control professionals, animal control officials and University pest extension experts all expect a plethora of panicked calls every fall from newcomers in the southwest who did not expect to see an enormous mass of furry tarantulas traversing through their neighborhood.

These massive migratory herds of tarantulas typically emerge during the month of September and October. Once November rolls around, residents of the southwest can expect more of these migratory herds to come through their area, only this time the herds are comprised entirely of male tarantulas that are traveling in search of mates, as November is the start of tarantula mating season in the southwest. While the males are traveling far and wide to find their soul mates, female tarantulas, which are much larger and more aggressive than males, sit waiting for their knights within the comfort of their burrows.

The largest amount of tarantulas, and therefore, the largest herds, can be seen in the dessert landscape of Nevada. However, spider herds can be seen traversing through the grassland and canyon landscapes of Colorado before moving on to more arid desert landscapes in states like Arizona, New Mexico and southern California. A recent study has found that these tarantula herds are first emerging at more northern longitudes with each passing year. Experts believe that global warming may be making more northern environments hospitable to tarantulas. So who knows? Maybe in fifty years migratory tarantula herds can be witnessed stampeding through Omaha.

Have you ever witnessed a migratory herd of tarantulas?