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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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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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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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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?

 

 

 

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The Elevation Of Urban And Residential Areas Of Arizona Determines When Termite Swarms Emerge

The Elevation Of Urban And Residential Areas Of Arizona Determines When Termite Swarms Emerge

At least 45 termite species have been documented as inhabiting the United States, and 30 of these species are known to inflict damage to structural wood or wood products. While Arizona is home to 17 termite species, only five are considered species of serious economic importance. In addition to causing a greater amount of property damage than any other pest species in the world, termites can also be a nuisance to homeowners. While subterranean and drywood termite workers are responsible for locating and initiating destructive indoor infestations, termite swarmers (alates) can annoy homeowners during the spring and early summer seasons, as swarms are of significant size and they often emerge in residential and urban areas where some species gravitate toward porch lights and street lights.

Termite swarms emerge when queen termites secrete pheromones that prompt reproductive alates to take flight from existing colonies. These swarms are comprised of male and female alates that attempt to find a mate in order to establish new colonies in areas where termites may not normally pose a threat to the structural integrity of homes and buildings. Fortunately, about 99 percent of swarming alates die before establishing a new colony as queen and king. Unfortunately, the alates that do survive often establish new colonies near the artificial light sources that lure them into human-populated areas.

There exists three subterranean termite species in Arizona that are considered highly destructive pests. One of these species, the arid-land subterranean termite, naturally inhabits unpopulated desert regions where they feed on vegetation. One reason as to why this species is becoming progressively more destructive is because new homes and buildings are being built over land where these termites are abundant. When structural developments remove their natural food source, the termites naturally turn to structural wood as their primary source of sustenance. This explains why swarms are so common within and near new homes in Arizona. While experts state that arid-land subterranean termite swarms occur in between the months of January and March, this is not always the case, as swarms emerge at different times of year depending on the elevation where colonies are established. In urban and residential areas below 4,000 feet in Arizona, residents can expect swarms to emerge during the winter and early spring seasons, but at elevations higher than 4,000 feet, arid land subterranean termites swarm during June and July.

Have you ever witnessed a termite swarm in your neighborhood?

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Arizona Is Home To One Of The Most Destructive Termite Species In The US, As Well As Some Rarer Species That Most People Have Never Heard Of

Arizona Is Home To One Of The Most Destructive Termite Species In The US, As Well As Some Rarer Species That Most People Have Never Heard Of

Termites are divided into three groups: drywood, dampwood and subterranean termites. Termites from all three of these groups are well represented in the state of Arizona. While the two most destructive termite species in the United States are generally understood to be eastern and Formosan subterranean termites, Arizona is home to neither of these species; instead, the most destructive termite in Arizona is the desert subterranean termite.

This highly destructive species is limited to the Sonoran Desert region of the southwest US, but experts claim that if it was not for this termite species’ limited desert habitat, it could be the most destructive termite species in the entire country. This is because, unlike the Formosan and eastern subterranean termite species, the desert subterranean termite does not require high-moisture environments in order to survive, and they can tolerate incredibly high temperatures that would kill all other termite species in the US. As a result of this species’ tolerance for these conditions, they can inflict far more damage at a much faster rate to dry forms of structural wood, and they would not need to secure moist conditions in order to do so.

The dark western drywood termite species is also well known for damaging numerous structures every year in Arizona. Considering the dry desert climate in Arizona, it was a surprise to researchers to learn that a water-craving dampwood termite species also exists within the state. This dampwood species is known as the desert dampwood termite, and this is the only dampwood species that inflicts damage to homes and buildings in the state. Although this termite’s habitat is limited to the sandy desert, researchers have found that this species is not well suited for thriving in dry soil. In order to survive, this dampwood species locates damp forms of wood beneath the ground, and they also attack shrubs and citrus trees in order to use the sap from these plants as a source of moisture. The desert dampwood termite is not often found infesting homes and buildings, but they frequently attack and heavily damage utility poles and fences. Most indoor infestations of these termites are limited to the baseboards and door frames of buildings.

Were you aware that a dampwood termite pest species exists in Arizona?