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The Western Drywood Termite Inflicts 250 Million Dollars In Structural Damage Annually In The Southwest Alone

More than 20 termite species have been documented as inhabiting Arizona, several of which are known pests of structural wood within homes and buildings. Arizona is home to all three groups of termites known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood. Subterranean termites live in large below-ground colonies that are often composed of several secondary nests that surround the original primary nest where the queen and her eggs reside. These networks of interconnected colonies can span areas larger than a football field below the ground in urban and suburban areas.

Dampwood termite pest species inflict very little structural damage to Arizona homes, making them relatively unimportant as economically damaging pests. Drywood termites are not problematic in most areas of the country, but in the southwest they are almost as destructive as subterranean termites. Since drywood termite colonies are contained entirely within single above ground wood items, like logs and fallen branches, they contain far fewer individuals than subterranean termite colonies. While subterranean termites inflict 80 percent of all termite damage reported in the US annually, the western drywood termite alone inflicts more than one quarter of one billion dollars in structural damage in the southwest every year.

Workers that leave subterranean termite colonies to forage are responsible for initiating infestations within homes. Given their below-ground habitat, subterranean termite workers typically damage substructural wood members that are close to the ground. Their intolerance for dry outside air requires them to build air-tight mud tubes out of a hardening mix of soil, excrement, saliva, and bits of wood. These mud tubes are often found on the exterior foundation walls of infested homes, and they serve as the most common indication that a subterranean termite infestation has been established.

Since only winged reproductive drywood termites (alates) leave colonies to swarm, only they can initiate drywood termite infestations. Since alates are airborne, they can initiate infestations virtually anywhere on or within a home without leaving signs of their presence. This makes drywood termite infestations difficult to both detect and prevent, but some interesting detection methods have been developed, such as infrared imaging devices, acoustic and odor emission detectors, and even termite-sniffing dogs. Housing codes require homes to be built with lumber that has been treated to resist decay and termite attacks, but these protective treatments decay over time, and very few methods of preventing drywood termite infestations have been developed.

Are you aware of any reliable methods of preventing drywood termite infestations?

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How Do Pest Control Professionals Pinpoint Subterranean Termite Infestations Within Homes, And How Do They Determine If A Home Is Vulnerable To Infestations?

All termite species can be divided into three separate groups known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. As their name suggests, subterranean termites dwell below the ground where workers regularly leave their nest in order to locate food sources. While workers forage through soil, they often stumble upon the base of timber-framed houses located in residential areas. Subterranean termites rely heavily on the constant hydration they receive from moist soil, and exposure to the dry outside air will cause them to dessicate and die. In order to safely access above ground structural wood within homes, workers build airtight “shelter tubes” that connect the moist ground soil with indoor structural wood sources.

Although shelter tubes allow subterranean termites to return to the moist soil whenever they require hydration, subterranean termites generally avoid infesting dry structural wood that is bereft of moisture; instead, subterranean termites prefer to infest structural wood with at least a 20 percent moisture content. During termite inspections, licensed professionals carry a moisture meter, which they use to measure the moisture content of structural wood components. Moisture meters can also be used to measure the moisture content of joists, sills, rafters and other irregularly shaped pieces of wood that are commonly damaged by subterranean termites. Many moisture meters work by inserting pins into wood in order to generate moisture readings, but some meters can remotely measure the moisture content of wood without having to inflict pinholes.

Moisture meters are also useful for gauging the moisture content of the surrounding air. In homes where no moisture problems exist, the moisture content within heated living areas should be between 5 and 10 percent, and between 12 and 19 percent in unheated areas, such as crawl spaces. Moisture readings above 20 percent make homes vulnerable to subterranean termite infestations, and a thorough inspection of wood should be carried out in all indoor areas where moisture levels exceed this figure. In some cases, wood that has become excessively moist must be replaced, and in other cases, setting up a dehumidifier within high-moisture areas within a home can effectively reduce moisture levels. Unusually high moisture levels within homes are often caused by plumbing leaks, improper outdoor drainage systems and rainwater leaks.

Can plumbing or rainwater leaks be found in your home?

 

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Due To The Troubling Results Of A Recent Study, The Controversy Concerning Termite Infestations Within Homes That Contain Spray-Foam Insulation Can Now Be Put To Rest

Due To The Troubling Results Of A Recent Study, The Controversy Concerning Termite Infestations Within Homes That Contain Spray-Foam Insulation Can Now Be Put To Rest

Three years ago, American entomologists published reports describing the termite-related hazards associated with the presence of spray polyurethane-foam insulation within homes. This form of insulation is often referred to simply as “spray-foam insulation,” and it is becoming increasingly popular as an alternative to typical wall insulation throughout the US. Spray-foam insulation (SFI) is relatively cheap and easy to install within new homes and old homes where original insulation has become warn, ineffective, and in need of replacement. However, SFI may not be the most economical choice in the long run, as numerous urban entomologists, pest control professionals, and inspectors have claimed that the foam hinders their ability to visually detect indoor termite infestations and related wood damage. Therefore, homes containing SFI are vulnerable to termite infestations, as it makes homes next to impossible to inspect, let alone treat.

SFI is applied within crawl spaces, attics and wall voids, which are three indoor areas where termite infestations and associated wood damage is most commonly found. In response to this industry-wide claim on the part of pest control professionals and other experts, the executive director of the Spray Polyurethane-Foam Alliance (SPFA) has claimed that pest control professionals only fail to detect termite infestations within homes containing SFI due to their primitive termite-detection methods. The executive director specifically stated that termite infestations could be effectively detected within SFI homes using acoustic detection devices, microwave devices, infrared monitors, air emission-detectors, and/or termite-sniffing dogs. Since the pest control industry is always interested in adopting more convenient methods of termite-detection within homes, several university and government entomologists had multiple 20 year veterans of the pest control industry inspect an infested basement for termite pests and damage.

One group of pest control professionals were tasked with using typical visual inspection tools to find the termite pests,  while another group relied on the above-mentioned “advanced” inspection tools. With the exception of one moisture meter, which is already a common inspection tool, neither a visual inspection nor an inspection involving the devices led the professionals to the active infestation or damaged wood sites. Also, since subterranean termites thrive in moist conditions, moisture meters may indicate where the pests are most likely located, but a moisture meter alone is not sufficient to detect termite pests. Unsurprisingly, the infestation was rapidly found following the removal of the SFI.

Does your home contain spray-foam insulation?

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The Commonly Overlooked Dampwood Termite Species That Is Known For Damaging Wood Fences And Indoor Flooring

The Commonly Overlooked Dampwood Termite Species That Is Known For Damaging Wood Fences And Indoor Flooring

Nearly 20 termite species have been documented within Arizona, around half of which are known to damage woodwork. The termite species found in Arizona belong to all three groups of termites, which are known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. In the United States as a whole, subterranean termites are by far the most common termite pests of structural wood, as around 80 percent of all infestations reported annually involve subterranean termites. Subterranean termites are also the most common termite pests in Arizona, but multiple drywood species in the state frequently inflict damage to structures as well. The desert and arid-land subterranean termites, and the western and light-western drywood termite species are the most destructive wood-infesting pests in Arizona. However, only one dampwood termite species in Arizona is considered a pest of structural wood.

Paraneotermes simplicicornis, or the “desert dampwood termite,” is not, despite its common name, technically a dampwood termite species, as they belong to the Kalotermitidae family, which are drywood termites. Generally, both drywood and dampwood termite species nest within single wood items located above ground, such as logs, fallen branches, and tree stumps, but the desert dampwood termite species is unique for dwelling within soil where they feed on structural lumber in contact with the ground and roots from both live and dead trees. Since desert dampwood termites can only feed on wood in contact with soil, they rarely inflict damage to structural wood within homes; instead, these termites tend to inflict heavy damage to wood fences, wood posts and dirt-filled porches. That being said, desert dampwood termites have been known to infest wood flooring within old homes that contain lumber components that make ground contact. Swarming alates from desert dampwood termite colonies emerge at around dusk from May through September in Arizona. While these swarms are not necessarily associated with monsoon season, they tend to emerge in the evening after heavy rainstorms.

Have you ever discovered termite damage on your landscape plants?

 

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Where Are Western Drywood Termite Colonies Most Commonly Found Within Urban And Suburban Areas?

Incisitermes minor, or the western drywood termite, as the species is more commonly known, is the most commonly encountered and most destructive drywood termite pest in southern Arizona. Unlike subterranean termite species, which prefer to infest moist and decayed wood, drywood termites are capable of infesting dry and sound wood, just as their name suggests. However, given their desert habitat, western drywood termites have adapted to thrive on wood sources that are particularly dry, making even newly constructed homes vulnerable to attacks by this species. Any structural wood with a moisture content greater than 7 percent can be readily infested by western drywood termites.

In the natural habitat, western drywood termite colonies are most abundant within wooded areas, river washes and canyons where trees can be found. Colonies are frequently recovered from dead portions of willow, cottonwood, oak, and sycamore trees, and these termites are often found infesting tree stumps, logs, and large branches that have fallen to the ground in rural, urban and residential areas. Due to the western drywood termite’s aggressive feeding habits, they are often found infesting natural wood sources on properties, which may afford homeowners adequate time to prevent the destructive pests from establishing an indoor infestation.

On urban and suburban properties where trees are not abundant, western drywood termites are commonly found infesting rose, Pyracantha, and oleander bushes near structures. In urban and suburban areas where trees can be found, these termite pests prefer to feed on alder, almond, apricot, ash, avocado, carob, cherry, citrus, elderberry, mulberry, ornamental pear, peach, plum, and walnut trees. In addition to infesting dry and sound structural lumber within homes, these pests are also frequently found infesting indoor items that are made of finished wood, particularly furniture. In southern Arizona, western drywood termite alates swarm during the months of May through August, and alates are well known for flying through attic vents where they establish colonies within attics and other indoor areas that can be accessed through attics, such as wall voids and ceiling voids.

Are the lumber components in your home treated with chemicals that repel drywood termite pests?

 

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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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What Are The Pros And Cons Of The Most Common Drywood Termite Treatments?

What Are The Pros And Cons Of The Most Common Drywood Termite Treatments?

There are two drywood termite species in Arizona that are considered to be of major economic importance. The most destructive drywood termite species in the state is known as the dark western drywood termite, and the other is the light western drywood termite, which is also known as the southern drywood termite. Drywood termite infestations are difficult to prevent, detect and treat because, unlike subterranean termites that infest homes from the soil, drywood termites infest structures while they swarm. Therefore, drywood termites can start an infestation in any area of a home, including wood located beneath shingles. After drywood termite swarmers (alates) infest external wood sources on a home they often tunnel their way into internal structural woods.

While subterranean termites infest structural wood around a home’s foundation before possibly moving to higher points, drywood termite infestations can occur in areas of a home where infested wood cannot be accessed. There is little a homeowner can do to prevent drywood termite infestations, but using chemically treated and/or pressure treated wood as lumber to build a home can effectively repel drywood termites for a period of time. There exists several ways in which a home is treated for a drywood termite infestation, and while all commonly used methods are effective at eliminating infestations, each method has its pros and cons.

The most popular method of treating drywood termite infestations is full structure fumigation. This method is especially necessary when a pest control professional cannot easily access infested areas of a home, or when an infested home is hosting multiple colonies that may not all be accounted for. The only drawback to fumigation is that it does not prevent future infestations. Another method involves heating a home to 124 degrees for a period of at least 30 minutes. This method is preferred by some, but whole structure heat treatments may damage certain items, but simply removing such items, like vinyl records, will prevent unwanted damage. Researchers are currently exploring biological drywood termite control agents in an effort to develop an optimal form of drywood termite control.

Have you ever needed a fumigation?

 

 

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What Are The Pros And Cons Of The Most Common Drywood Termite Treatments?

There are two drywood termite species in Arizona that are considered to be of major economic importance. The most destructive drywood termite species in the state is known as the dark western drywood termite, and the other is the light western drywood termite, which is also known as the southern drywood termite. Drywood termite infestations are difficult to prevent, detect and treat because, unlike subterranean termites that infest homes from the soil, drywood termites infest structures while they swarm. Therefore, drywood termites can start an infestation in any area of a home, including wood located beneath shingles. After drywood termite swarmers (alates) infest external wood sources on a home they often tunnel their way into internal structural woods.

While subterranean termites infest structural wood around a home’s foundation before possibly moving to higher points, drywood termite infestations can occur in areas of a home where infested wood cannot be accessed. There is little a homeowner can do to prevent drywood termite infestations, but using chemically treated and/or pressure treated wood as lumber to build a home can effectively repel drywood termites for a period of time. There exists several ways in which a home is treated for a drywood termite infestation, and while all commonly used methods are effective at eliminating infestations, each method has its pros and cons.

The most popular method of treating drywood termite infestations is full structure fumigation. This method is especially necessary when a pest control professional cannot easily access infested areas of a home, or when an infested home is hosting multiple colonies that may not all be accounted for. The only drawback to fumigation is that it does not prevent future infestations. Another method involves heating a home to 124 degrees for a period of at least 30 minutes. This method is preferred by some, but whole structure heat treatments may damage certain items, but simply removing such items, like vinyl records, will prevent unwanted damage. Researchers are currently exploring biological drywood termite control agents in an effort to develop an optimal form of drywood termite control.

Have you ever needed a fumigation?

 

 

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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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How Do Drywood And Dampwood Termites Come To Infest Valued Wooden Objects And Structural Timbers If They Don’t Forage Away From Their Nests?

How Do Drywood And Dampwood Termites Come To Infest Valued Wooden Objects And Structural Timbers If They Don’t Forage Away From Their Nests?

It is well known that termites are divided into three different groups that are known as subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites. It is also widely known that subterranean termites are responsible for the majority of termite infestations within structures. In the United States, subterranean termites are responsible for more than 80 percent of all termite infestations in homes and buildings. The most destructive subterranean termite species in the country include the native eastern subterranean termite, the invasive Formosan subterranean termite and western subterranean termite.

Like all social insects, termites live within colonies that are divided into different social castes. Unlike subterranean termite colonies, drywood and dampwood termite colonies do not contain workers that forage below the ground. While all three termite groups contain reproductive swarmers (alates) that establish new colonies as queens and kings, most termite infestations occur when foraging workers locate a structural wood source below the ground. Reproductive alates can also establish infestations by swarming directly to wood sources, but infestations rarely begin this way, as 99 percent of alates die before mating. Since both drywood and dampwood termite colonies do not have a worker caste, only alates can establish infestations. Therefore, drywood and dampwood termite species do not access wood sources nearly as often as subterranean termites.

Generally, termites only swarm once a year during a one to three month period, which gives drywood and dampwood species little chance of establishing infestations within structural wood sources. This explains why subterranean termite infestations occur far more frequently than drywood and dampwood infestations. Drywood termite infestations are common in the southwest, as western drywood termite populations are high within urban and residential areas in the region, particularly in metropolitan areas of Arizona. It should also be noted that drywood termite colonies can move into homes if they infest tree branches that make contact with a home’s structural wood. Many drywood termite infestations start this way, and it explains why so many drywood termite infestations are found on the roofs of houses in the southwest.

Have you ever located a termite-infested tree within or on your property?