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How Arizona Residents Can Tell The Difference Between A Subterranean Termite Infestation And A Drywood Termite Infestation

How Arizona Residents Can Tell The Difference Between A Subterranean Termite Infestation And A Drywood Termite Infestation

Termite species are divided into three categories: Subterranean termites, drywood termites, and dampwood termites. Unfortunately, Arizona is home to termite species from all three of these categories. There exists a few termite pest species in Arizona that are classified as drywood and subterranean termites, but only one dampwood species is active in the state. The most damaging subterranean termite species in the state include the arid land subterranean termite and the desert subterranean termite. The two most significant drywood species in the state include the dark western drywood termite and the light western drywood termite. All four of the above named species attack structures in great frequency in most areas of Arizona, particularly within the southern half of the state. There exists many ways for a homeowner to distinguish between drywood and dampwood termite species and the types of damage these species inflict on a home’s structural wood.

Subterranean termites are larger than drywood termites in terms of body size, and this goes for both swarmers (alates) and workers. However, most residents who discover termite damage in their home are unlikely to see individual worker termites, as they are active beneath the surface of wood where they remain out of sight for nearly all hours of the day. Unlike drywood termites, subterranean termites must make regular contact with ground soil for nourishment. In order to travel back and forth between structural wood and the soil, these termites build mud tubes that are usually visible along one or more sides of a home’s foundation. Drywood termite infestations may be relatively more difficult to notice, as they remain within wood at all times, making mud tubes unnecessary for these termites. But unlike subterranean termite infestations, drywood termite infestation can normally be pinpointed by finding piles of dry fecal pellets near areas of structural wood. Subterranean termites do not leave behind these fecal pellets, as they expel liquid waste within soil. Although subterranean termites are typically more widespread and destructive than subterranean termites, this is not the case in most western US states where experts consider the dark western drywood termite to be the most significant termite pest in the region, especially in Arizona.

Have you ever witnessed a termite swarm near your home?

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How Arizona Residents Can Tell The Difference Between Nuisance Termites And Wood-Destroying Termites

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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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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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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Why Problematic Termites Are Beneficial In Times Of Drought

Why Problematic Termites Are Beneficial In Times Of Drought

Just about everyone is well aware of the fact that termites inflict significant damage to timber-framed structures, but fewer people are aware of the fact that termites consume wood in order to secure the nutritious cellulose that makes up all forms of plant material. Therefore, termites can also consume smaller wooden items, the paper in books or even champagne corks. Termite damage to structural wood is almost always inflicted by subterranean termites, while both dampwood and drywood termites are the most frequent culprits behind infestations found in smaller objects containing cellulose. Pest control professionals encounter subterranean termite infestations in structural wood far more often than they encounter drywood or dampwood infestations in smaller wooden objects. Subterranean termite damage to structures accounts for a majority of the economic costs of termite damage, which is around 5 billion dollars per year. While subterranean termites may be one of the most economically devastating insect pests that exist, they may also mitigate the negative effects of long-running droughts.

Scientists have long known that termites play an essential role in the health of the ecosystem, as they aerate soil with their subterranean tunneling activity and convert dead plant matter to fertile soil. But now, scientists have found evidence that termites allow soil to retain significant levels of moisture during times of drought. In a large forested area, researchers compared the moisture levels in soil that had been inhabited by subterranean termites with soil that had been free of termites. When droughts did not occur, moisture levels in each area of land remained the same, but during a 20 year drought, termite-inhabited soil retained enough moisture to allow for plant growth. Considering this finding, subterranean termites, although harmful to structures, can maintain a soil fertility during even the most significant of drought periods, thus allowing for the survival of economically valuable cropland.

Considering the above described study, do you believe that subterranean termite activity in crop-soil could be of benefit during dry spells?