Bug Blog

Arizona’s Drywood Termite Species

Considering that termites are well known for the significant amount of water they need to stay hydrated, many non-residents of Arizona are surprised to learn that several termite pest species are abundant in the exceptionally arid southern half of the state. Subterranean termite species must maintain a habitat below the ground or within wood in order to avoid perishing from the desiccating effect of outside air. This is why subterranean termites have adapted the ability to construct protective mud tubes that connect the ground soil to structural wood sources that are located inside of homes directly above foundations. The subterranean termites that infest homes in Arizona are no exception in this regard, but desert-dwelling termite species have adapted a slight tolerance to extremely high temperatures and dry soil. However, the state is also home to drywood termite species that constantly maintain a habitat solely within the wood sources that they infest.

Drywood termites also require a fair amount of water, but they stay hydrated by consuming water contained within wood. Since water is more readily available in soil than it is in natural wood sources in Arizona, drywood termites do not require as much moisture as subterranean termites do in the state. That being said, summers in Arizona can become too hot and too dry even for drywood termites. Research has shown that drywood termites survive particularly hot and dry summer days in Arizona by moving into homes.

Several insect pest species are known for invading homes in order to escape harsh environmental conditions, but it has traditionally been assumed that termites invade homes solely for feeding purposes, and not to avoid harsh climatic conditions. Researchers have now proven this theory wrong, as multiple studies show that the most destructive drywood termite species in the southwest, the western drywood termite, can perish when temperatures surpass 114 degrees. One study showed that every single nymph specimen of the western drywood termite species died within 210 minutes when exposed to temperatures exceeding 114 degrees. Research has also found that western drywood termite specimens are able to avoid the negative effects of high heat if they successfully secure shelter within homes with thick walls and air conditioning. Since drywood termites inflict millions of dollars in damage to structures in the southwest each year, residents in the region should be mindful of drywood termites on hot summer days.

Have you ever encountered mud tubes on a home’s foundation?