TERMITES: the most destructive insect pests of wood, causing more than $1.7 billion in damages and cost of control each year in the U.S. alone. If you think you have termites, it is important to immediately get a professional termite inspection and termite control plan before extensive damage occurs.
Termites are small, ant-like insects that have lived on Earth for more than 250 million years, feeding on wood and serving an important function in nature by converting dead trees into organic matter. However, these wood-destroying insects also can cause extensive damage to homes and businesses.
Termites are often called the “silent destroyer” because they may be secretly hiding and thriving in your basement or yard without any immediate signs of damage. Living in colonies that, at maturity, number from several hundred to several million individuals, termites are generally grouped according to their feeding behavior. Thus, the commonly used general groupings are subterranean, soil-feeding, drywood, dampwood, and grass-eating.
Here in Tucson Arizona, we often face two of the most problematic groups of termites, the subterranean and drywood. Drywood and subterranean termites are the most destructive insect pests of wood, causing more than $1.7 billion in damages and cost of control each year in the U.S. alone.
Subterranean termites, also referred to as "white ants" due to their pale or whitish color, cause about 95% of the termite-related damage found in the United States. Subterranean termites are termites that seek shelter in the soil, which provides optimal temperatures and moisture for their survival.
A common trait of subterranean termites is their habit of building shelter tubes when they have to venture over exposed areas. These “mud tubes” are noticeable in heavy infestations, allowing the termites to cross exposed surfaces without being seen. They tunnel from the ground and come up through the slab or the outside of your home to get to the wood and paper products making up the structure.
With their method of infestation starting at the ground level, it is easier to prevent subterranean termites than drywood termite infestations.
Drywood termites are social insects that live in colonies in sound, dry wood. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood termites require no contact with the soil or with any other source of moisture. This has enabled them to adapt well to human habitation, finding an ideal habitat in the dry wooden frames, beams, and furniture in homes and buildings from which they derive their nutrition from the cellulose in the wood.
Drywood termites enter structures through attic or foundation vents, directly through or under wood shingles, under eaves and fascia boards, and through natural cracks, checks and joints in exposed wood trim, window and door frames and sills.
Drywood termite colonies tend to be much smaller than subterranean termite colonies, but can be detected by the presence of their feces pellet. The characteristic drywood termite feces pellets can usually be seen accumulated as piles around infested wood and are usually the first evidence of a drywood termite infestation.
Termites in Tucson
Termites are active and widespread across Southern Arizona, including Tucson, which means the potential for termite damage is considered significant. It is essential to maintain an effective termite control program. If you own a home, talk to a Conquistador Pest Control expert about getting a termite inspection and methods to help protect your home from termite infestations and damage.