Arizona residents are no strangers to problematic indoor arthropod pests, as some of the most feared insects and spiders are prevalent in urban and suburban areas of the state. Some of these highly undesirable arthropod pests include Africanized honey bees (aka killer bees), tarantulas, black widows, multiple fire ant species, and a total of five recluse spider species. In addition to fear-inspiring and potentially dangerous arthropod pests, Arizona is also home to an economically costly group of insects that are well known for being every homeowner's worst nightmare--termites. Termites are considered the most important group of urban pests in Arizona due to their habit of inflicting extensive and expensive damage to structural wood within homes and finished woods that make up movable objects like furniture and picture frames. A total of 17 termite species have been documented in Arizona, seven of which are categorized as structural pests.
Termite species are divided into three groups based on habitat, and pest species from all three can be found in Arizona. These groups are subterranean, drywood and dampwood termites, and the first two groups are responsible for virtually all termite-related structural damage in Arizona. In most regions of the US, drywood termites are either non-existant or are non-pests, but the southwest is unique for being home to some of the most destructive drywood termite species in the world. Although drywood termites do not eat away at wood as rapidly as subterranean termites, drywood termite infestations are far more difficult to detect within homes. This is because drywood termite infestations are initiated by swarming alates, as opposed to workers from already established underground subterranean termite colonies.
Since they are airborne, alates can establish colonies anywhere on or within a home, and this is one of the reasons as to why modern homes are constructed with lumber that has been chemically treated to resist termites and rot. Since structural lumber slowly becomes more susceptible to termite infestations with age, homeowners often hire pest control professionals to retreat accessible structural wood. Unfortunately, much of a home’s structural wood is located within inaccessible spaces, making it impossible to retreat every lumber component without causing damage. However, pest control professionals often inject residual insecticide dusts or sprays into wall voids, which makes the interior structural wood resistant to swarming alates. Of course, retreatments must be performed every few years or whenever the insecticide wears off.
Do you know if your home’s structural wood has ever been treated to resist termite attack?