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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?

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A Massive Art Exhibition Is Allowing Visitors To Explore Termite Habitats From A Termite’s Perspective

You probably have not heard many artists claim to have been inspired by insects, let alone termites, but one famous artist, Nicholas Mangan, is an exception in this regard. Mangan has recently contributed an art display to the Taipei Fine Arts Museum as a part of the museum’s exhibit titled: Post Nature–A Museum as an Ecosystem. Most of Mangan’s work highlights aspects of the ecosystem that many people are unfamiliar with. For example, Mangan’s latest exhibit focuses on the positive effect that termites have on the ecosystem.

Mangan is calling his exhibit Termite Economics, and it consists of 3D printed models of different termite habitats, including nesting mounds, earthen tunnel networks and dwelling chambers within blocks of wood. All of his 3D models were constructed from plaster, dirt, synthetic polymer paint, and plywood. In addition to the habitat models, Mangan also commissioned drone footage of particular regions of Australia’s arid landscape where termites are known to be active. This footage is played on a continuous loop in order to provide spectators with a termite’s point of view as it navigates terrain and approaches its nest. The footage is played on a computer that is situated amongst Mangan’s models. This exhibition was inspired by current termite research being conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or CSIRO.

Researchers working for CSIRO are currently studying how subterranean termites can lead humans toward rare mineral sources that are located far below the ground where they cannot be viewed by humans. Mangan believes that CSIRO research shows how social cooperation among termites allows the insects to achieve feats that are beyond human capabilities, such as complicated mound architecture, and in this case, mining, so to speak. Mangan’s exhibit allows people to understand how the mining and world-building capability of termites reflects manmade economic systems and social hierarchies. For Mangan, a termite colony is like a tiny universe that closely resembles human sociality.

Do you believe that termite sociality is similar to human sociality?

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Termites Can Monitor The Communication That Takes Place Between Termites Of Competing Species

Termites Can Monitor The Communication That Takes Place Between Termites Of Competing Species

While apex predators do exist, animals that exercise total dominance over a particular region’s resources are rare in nature. Unlike the very few apex predators that exist, most animal species are forced to indulge in frequent battles over resources, and these violent battles can be costly for species. It is for this reason that most animals dwell within particular locales that are free of other hostile animals. It is when animals forage away from their nests or shelters that they become faced with threats that could erupt into full blown battles. Considering the relatively small size of termites and the isolated and well fortressed nesting sites that they inhabit, the daily life of a termite clearly entails constant threats from other competing animals, especially ants. In addition to ants, termites face significant competition from other termite species. This is because most regions of the world, especially tropical regions, are home to a variety of different termite species, all of which are competing for the very same resources. Despite the naturally belligerent relationship that exists between most termites of different species, it is surprising to learn that multiple species often inhabit the same nesting site. As you can imagine, interspecies battles between termites occur frequently when they inhabit the same nest. However, by eavesdropping on their more dominant subterranean counterparts, drywood termites can escape from violent encounters before they occur.

It may seem odd that competing termite species may dwell within the same nest, but sometimes, having access to the resources that a nest provides outweighs the risk of falling victim to a violent encounter with an enemy species. However, researchers have long been confused by the presence of drywood termites in pieces of wood that are dominated by a far greater number of subterranean termites. Drywood termite colonies grow to contain a few hundred individual termites, but subterranean termites dwell within colonies containing millions of individual termites. Considering this, it would seem that drywood termites are at a tremendous disadvantage, but how do they continue to survive within such a hostile environment? As it turns out, the Cryptotermes secundus species of drywood termite is blessed with the ability to recognize the vibro-acoustic communication signals that take place between their nearby subterranean enemies, the Coptotermes acinaciformis species. The drywood termites of this species are attracted to their own vibration signals, but they are repelled by the vibrations produced by subterranean termites. In fact, as a cohabitated piece of wood becomes smaller as a result of constant feeding, the drywood termites become progressively more repelled by the vibration signals produced by their subterranean enemies. This makes sense considering that the chances of falling victim to a subterranean termite attack increases as the piece of infested wood becomes smaller. To put it simply, these drywood termites indulge in espionage in order to gain an advantage over their more powerful subterranean enemies.

Do you think that subterranean termites are capable of differentiating between their own vibration signals and those of other species?

 

 

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Termites May Have Infested The Primitive Dwellings Built By Ancient American Indians

Termites May Have Infested The Primitive Dwellings Built By Ancient American Indians

Termites are among the oldest of all insect groups, so these destructive pests must have been known to ancient humans. It can be assumed that ancient peoples dreaded termites just as much as moderns do. In fact, there exists evidence to suggest that termites may have infested the primitive homes constructed by Native Americans thousands of years ago.

It is not uncommon for archeologists to recover ancient termite fecal pellets from dig sites. Back in 1984, an entomologist correctly identified a mysterious and tiny object that had been unearthed in Arizona. This object was a prehistoric fecal pellet, and it originated from an area of Arizona that contains remnants of ancient living structures that had been built by Native Americans at least ten centuries ago. Although this termite pellet, and many others, were well-preserved, it was determined that the pellet had been burned, possibly as a result of burning firewood that contained termite colonies. It was also determined that the fecal pellets had been expelled by either drywood or dampwood termites.

Unlike subterranean termites, which dwell within soil, both drywood and dampwood termites live out their entire lives within one single piece of wood. For these termites, their home is also their food source, therefore, foraging is not necessary for these termites. The drywood termite pellets found within the ancient structures did not exactly resemble the fecal pellets that are expelled by modern wood-dwelling termites in Arizona. While this finding is peculiar, researchers are more interested in how the drywood termites came to be associated with ancient Native American dwellings. One theory states that ancient Native Americans burned and stored firewood that contained termites. Another theory states that termites infested certain wood and plant materials that were used to construct ancient structures.

In Snowflake and Phoenix, Arizona, termite fecal pellets were unearthed from ancient fire pits. Pueblo and Anasazi Native American tribes were known for using wood and plant materials for constructing the side walls and roofs of their largely mud-constructed homes. Many of these woody plant materials likely contained termites before they were collected as construction materials. However, researchers have not yet found direct evidence of ancient termite infestations within the woody plant materials contained within ancient prehistoric homes unearthed in Arizona, but a termite presence within ancient firewood seems certain.

Do you believe that termites have been viewed as pests for as long as humans have been using wood to build homes?