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The Dampwood Termite Species That Are Sometimes Mistaken For Highly Damaging Subterranean Termite Pests

The Dampwood Termite Species That Are Sometimes Mistaken For Highly Damaging Subterranean Termite Pests

The subterranean termite species that inhabit the southwest US are markedly different from termite species that can be found in all other regions of the US. This difference is due to the extremely dry climate in the southwest desert regions where the hard, rocky, and largely vegetation-free soil would see most other termite species perish within seconds after being exposed to such conditions. Generally, subterranean termites rely heavily on water in order to survive and develop properly, but subterranean termite species in Arizona have adapted to survive on relatively small amounts of water.

In addition to water, subterranean termites obviously rely on cellulose-rich plant matter that is abundant above and below the soil’s surface in all ecoregions in the US. These dead sources of plant matter include tree roots, tree stumps, dead trees, rotting plant stems, loose sticks and twigs, and of course, structural wood in homes and buildings. While these sources of dead plant matter may not be as abundant in the southwest as they are in other areas of the country, Arizona termite species have no problem locating dead and decaying plant materials in form of brush, dead citrus trees, savannah grass, tumbleweeds, and dead succulents like cacti.

Some termite species in Arizona, particularly the three relatively minor dampwood termite pest species in the state, have been well documented as feeding on the roots of live fruit trees and succulent plants. Although rare, some Arizona homeowners have noticed termite-induced damage to their ornamental landscaping plants, particularly succulent species. For example, the desert dampwood termite feeds on the sap of young citrus trees, grapevines, as well as live and dead shrubs, which provides these termites with the relatively high amounts of water they need to thrive.

Unlike most dampwood termite species, which inhabit single pieces of natural and finished wood sources above the ground, the desert dampwood termite feeds by girdling both living and dead plants below the soil’s surface. Due to this habit, homeowners sometimes mistake desert dampwood termites for subterranean termite species when moist fence posts, baseboards, and door frames sustain termite damage. However, swarming dampwood termite alates are unique for their relatively massive two inch body length, which dwarfs the ¼ to 1 inch long alates from both subterranean and drywood species. Dampwood termite species are not considered economically significant pests in Arizona.

Have you ever encountered a swarm of insects that appeared to be unusually large in size?

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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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Exterminating Drywood Termites

Exterminating Drywood Termites With Microwaves That Boil The Insect’s Internal Bodily Fluids

These days a lot of research goes into developing new pest control methods that can effectively kill cryptic insect pest species that sometimes survive traditional pest control treatments. This is certainly the case when it comes to eliminating invasive insect pests, such as red-imported fire ants, tawny crazy ants, and Formosan subterranean termites. However, several native insect pests remain extremely difficult to eliminate from infested homes despite significant advances in pest control technology. Termites are the most common insect pests that remain a challenge to eradicate from infested homes, and this is especially the case when it comes to drywood termite species.

Subterranean termites have long been the most common and the most economically damaging group of wood-infesting pests in the US, as well as the rest of the world. All termites are divided into three groups that are known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. As pests of economic importance, dampwood termites are largely insignificant, while subterranean termites inflict 80 percent of all termite damage per year within the US. The other 20 percent of property damage is mostly inflicted by drywood termite species. Considering the high cost of subterranean termite pest activity, it is in the best interest of pest control researchers to focus on eradicating and preventing subterranean termite infestations as opposed to drywood termite infestations. That being said, the southwest US is the only region of the country that sees a disproportionate amount of drywood termite damage to houses and finished wood items.

Subterranean termite infestations can be prevented with termiticide and physical barriers that are applied beneath the ground-soil surrounding properties, and infested homes rarely contain more than one colony nesting site within structural wood. Drywood termites, on the other hand, can nest deep within structural wood and they can establish multiple colonies within a home. Currently, whole-structure fumigation is the preferred method of drywood termite eradication within homes, and several spot-treatment methods have been put to use with varying results. One bizarre spot-treatment that is used by very few pest control professionals involves placing a microwave emitting device against a wall in order to cook drywood termites nesting within structural wood in wall voids. This method causes the fluids within the cells of termites to boil, which destroys cell membranes and rapidly results in death. Unfortunately, the heat from these devices may damage wallpaper, plaster and structural wood.

Have you ever had your home fumigated for a drywood termite infestation?

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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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If My Home’s Timber-Frame Remains Free Of Moisture Am I Safe From Termite Attacks?

It is often claimed that termites require high-moisture conditions in order to survive, but this claim may seem dubious considering that several subterranean termite species have no problem surviving within Arizona’s exceptionally dry desert soil. While not all of the termite species in Arizona are considered pests to structures, the entire state is located within a geographic region where termite pest activity is considered moderate to heavy, and termites are considered the most significant indoor insect pests within the state.

Since termites are clearly abundant in the Sonoran Desert region of Arizona, they must find water somewhere. Since the sandy desert surface is cleary bereft of moisture, subterranean termites are able to establish colonies located far below the ground surface where adequate moisture can be found. The arid land subterranean termite species maintains a habitat in particular areas where soil contains a bit more moisture than can be found within the barren sandy landscapes that most people picture when thinking of the Sonoran Desert. This species can be found in nearly all areas of the state. The desert subterranean termite is the only subterranean termite species in Arizona that can withstand periods of drought within the hottest areas of the state. This species is the most common termite pest found within structures in Arizona, but unlike the arid land subterranean termite species, the desert subterranean termite species can only be found in the southern half of the state.

Subterranean termite species in Arizona can attack new homes where lumber is dry, as these species construct mud tubes that connect the ground soil to indoor structural wood. These mud tubes provide subterranean termites with direct access to soil where they can readily quench their thirst. Subterranean termites can establish a permanent infestation within indoor wood sources that have become heavily saturated with water due to plumbing leaks or seepage from rain water, making repeated trips to soil unnecessary.

Drywood and dampwood termite species do not make contact with soil; instead, colonies maintain a constant presence within single wood items, such as dead trees and logs. However, the swarming termites (alates) that emerge annually from drywood and dampwood termite colonies often squeeze into small cracks and pores within any area of a home’s wood exterior where they proceed to establish infestations that usually spread into a home’s interior timber-frame. Since these termites do not extract water from the soil, they can only survive within wood that contains adequate moisture levels. Most homes in Arizona contain wood that is moist enough to support drywood termite colonies, but dampwood termites require more water in order to establish an infestation, making dampwood termite infestations relatively rare in Arizona.

Were you aware that dampwood termites could infest homes in Arizona?

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Are Homes Built On Concrete Slabs More Or Less Vulnerable To Termite Attacks?

Termites are easily the most destructive pests in the world, and it is well known that the insects inflict billions of dollars in damages to structures each year within the United States. Due to the increasing destruction being caused by termites each year in the country, more and more homeowners are choosing to have their houses inspected for the wood-eating pests on a regular basis.

Aside from the fact that termites enjoy eating structural wood, the average homeowner knows very little about termites. For example, most homeowners are not able to recognize wood that has been damaged by termites, and most homeowners would not be able to spot an active termite infestation within their home even if the affected area were within plane sight. This is understandable, after all, termites are among the stealthiest of all insect groups. Structural wood that has undergone years of termite damage can be hard to notice, as termites consume wood fibers beneath the surface of structural lumber where entire colonies remain invisible. Since the most destructive group of termites, subterranean termites, forage unseen beneath the soil’s surface, anticipating termite attacks on homes and other structures is next to impossible. Therefore, it would be wise for residents to recognize certain structural features that may make their home vulnerable to termite infestations.

Many homeowners believe that the concrete slab that their home is built on serves as a barrier that prevents termites from accessing their home’s structural wood, but this is not necessarily the case. When it comes to modern home construction, concrete slabs may be the norm, but they actually make homes more vulnerable to termite infestations in the long-run. This is because concrete slabs eventually develop cracks that termites can easily travel through in order to access structural wood above. In fact, termites have more than enough room to travel through concrete openings around plumbing in newly built homes, and the condensation that forms on the external surface of pipes serves to attract thirsty termites to the vulnerable area. A termiticide chemical barrier is often applied to a bare property before concrete slabs are laid in order to prevent termites from breaching the slab after a home is built.

Can you pinpoint any structural imperfections on your home that put it at risk of becoming infested with subterranean termites?

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Dampwood Termites In Arizona Can Attack Living Citrus Trees And Spread Fungal Decay

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?

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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?