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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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