Several termite pests infest homes in Arizona, most notably subterranean and drywood termites, but minor dampwood termite damage finished wood is common in the state as well. Heterotermes aureus, is the most destructive termite species in Arizona, and it’s more commonly known as the desert subterranean termite. This species’ foraging territory covers much of the southern half of Arizona, and studies in Tucson have shown that as many as 470 colonies exist per acre. The most thorough studies on the desert subterranean termite’s foraging area took place in Tucson during the early seventies. These studies were carried out on areas of land that are now covered with numerous homes and buildings, which explains the high frequency of termite infestations in southern Arizona.
Desert subterranean termite colonies are not only densley situated in southern Arizona, but they are particularly large as well. Considering that subterranean termites dwell below the ground, determining the average number of individual termites within a mature colony is impossible, but based on field research, experts estimate that the number of foragers in a colony varies between 22,000 to more than 300,000 termites. The average number of termites foraging away from a colony consisted of 1,457 individuals, a little more than eight percent of which were soldiers. Although only workers infest structural wood and are the only colony members capable of feeding themselves, soldiers accompany workers during foraging expeditions for defense against predators, which are mostly ants. One colony was found to forage over an area ranging from 135 ft squared to more than 35,000 ft squared. The linear distance between foraging sites for one colony was found to be as long as 118 ft. Considering the massive number of colonies that exist in urban and suburban areas of southern Arizona, all homes in the region should be inspected for termite damage once or twice per year and protected with termiticide barriers or a baiting system.
Have you ever found signs of termite activity around your home?