Bug Blog

Why Are Subterranean Termite Infestations Pinpointed More Readily Than Drywood Termite Infestations?

Generally termites are more abundant in southern Arizona than they are in northern Arizona, but no area of the state if free from termites. In fact, multiple termite species in Arizona can thrive in high-altitude towns and cities located in mountainous regions. No matter where you go in Arizona, multiple termite species are abundant. Generally, dampwood termites are not considered to be as economically significant as subterranean and drywood termite species in Arizona. In most of the US, drywood termite species are not considered a major threat either, but in the desert southwest, the western drywood termite is believed to be the third most common termite pest species within structures. In addition to the western drywood termite, the light western drywood termite is also considered a pest of significant economic importance within the state. There exists many differences between subterranean and drywood termite species in Arizona, especially when it comes to body size, infestation behaviors, and the type of structural damage that each species inflicts within homes.

Drywood termite swarmers (alates) in Arizona are typically around an inch and a half in length with wings, and half an inch without wings. Both the western and the light western drywood termite species’ distributions overlap, but western drywood termites are able to tolerate cooler, more moist and higher altitude conditions than light western drywood termites. Drywood infestations are more difficult to detect within homes than subterranean infestations since drywood species burrow deep into relatively hard woods where their tunneling activities do not result in an uneven or blistered appearance on the surface of the infested wood.. Subterranean termites, on the other hand, tunnel through softer wood that is closer to the surface of structural lumber. Due to their shallow tunneling activity, subterranean termite damage can be detected by listening for a hollow sound when tapping on the surface of structural wood. It is also important to note that drywood termites plow through wood across the grain, unlike subterranean termites that tunnel along the grain. Subterranean termite swarms that occur outdoors indicate that a colony is nearby, but outdoor drywood swarms are a natural occurrence, and they do not indicate a nearby drywood termite threat. However, if a drywood termite swarm occurs indoors, then there is no doubt that an indoor infestation exists, and this is not necessarily the case when it comes to indoor subterranean termite swarms.

Have you ever witnessed a termite swarm near your home?