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?