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Arizona’s Hot And Dry Climate Supports A Truly Unique Variety Of Termites

Arizona’s Hot And Dry Climate Supports A Truly Unique Variety Of Termites

Many Arizona residents are shocked upon learning that a total of 17 termite species have been documented as inhabiting the state. This may be due to the common assumption that many insect species cannot survive the harsh desert climate. Termite species do, indeed, require significant amounts of water in order to survive, and this includes species that are native to the Sonoran Desert. As it happens, wood, fungi and plant matter located within desert landscapes provide desert-dwelling termites with an adequate amount of water. Also, as termites descend further below the ground’s surface, moisture levels progressively increase, allowing termites in all regions to secure needed water by digging deeper into ground soil. However, the excessively dry conditions in the southwest support a unique variety of termite species that cannot be found within any other region in the US.

In the United States and most other countries, subterranean termites inflict far greater amounts of structural damage than drywood and dampwood termite species. The most abundant and destructive termite species in the US is the eastern subterranean termite (R. flavipes), as this species is responsible for well over three fourths of all termite-damage inflicted upon structures in the country. However, this is not the case in the southwest, particularly in Arizona; instead, the west Indian subterranean termite species causes the greatest amount of property destruction in the Sonoran Desert region. Unsurprisingly, this species does not require as much water as most other species of subterranean termite, as workers from west Indian subterranean termite colonies transport very little, or no water back to feeding sites. These termites also tend to infest areas of a home that are located far away from water-leaks, and other high-moisture locations. Other abundant termite species in Arizona, such as arid-land subterranean termites and western drywood termites, are also uniquely suited for excessively hot environments. These and other desert-dwelling termite species in Arizona live within habitats that are mostly limited to the southern half of the state.

Were you aware that the termite species inhabiting Arizona are unlike other termite species in the US?