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Why All Structural Wood Components Within Old And New Homes And Buildings In Arizona Are Vulnerable To Termite Attack

Termites are considered the most significant urban insect pests in Arizona where multiple species of subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites are known to inflict structural damage to homes and buildings. At least 17 termite species have been documented in Arizona, less than half of which are known structural pests. Termites are the most economically costly urban pests in the US, as the cost of repairing termite damage in the country amounts to at least five billion dollars per year, and much of this damage occurs in Arizona. In fact, Arizona ranks fifth in the nation when it comes to the annual number of termite treatments performed in each state. All new homes in southern Arizona are legally required to undergo preventative termite treatments before and after construction in order to protect homes from termite attacks. Drywood termites follow subterranean termites as the most destructive and economically costly termite pests in Arizona, while dampwood termites are the least destructive.

The most commonly managed dampwood termite pest in Arizona is the desert dampwood termite (Paraneotermes simplicicornis). These termites live in relatively small colonies that rarely exceed 1,500 individuals, and like all dampwood termites, the desert dampwood termite is highly dependent on moisture in order to thrive, which limits their food sources to excessively damp woods and citrus tree roots within damp soil. These termites extract the water they need from citrus tree sap, and they only attack waterlogged structural wood components in contact with moist ground soil. Two drywood termite species inflict significant damage to structures in Arizona, and unlike dampwood and subterranean termites, drywood termites are able to infest dry structural lumber components within relatively new structures. The dark western drywood termite (Incisitermes minor) and the light drywood termite (Marginitermes hubbardi) are responsible for the vast majority of drywood termite infestations in Arizona, and they infest hardwoods as well as softwoods. The most commonly managed and destructive termite pest in the entire southwest is the desert subterranean termite (Heterotermes aureus), and they are active within their ground soil habitat all year round. These termites swarm every year at dusk following monsoon rains, and unlike most subterranean termites, desert subterranean termites readily consume hardwood as well as softwood portions of structural wood.

Have you ever witnessed a termite swarm following monsoon rains?

 

 

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