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?