When most people think of termites, they think of wetter climates than Phoenix but the truth is, termites can live in the desert as well as any other part of the country. The two most common types of termites in Phoenix are subterranean and drywood.
While their habitat and colonies might differ, they are both destructive forces, costing Arizonians millions of dollars in damage. Catching them early is key to protecting your home and yard.
Types of Termites in Phoenix
Termites love moisture so when it’s especially rainy, you’re more likely to see them.
Subterranean termites make Alaska look like an attractive place to live as they are found in every state except Alaska. They love warmer climates like ours and make homes in the soil. Building miles of underground colonies using thousands of workers, subterranean termites can infest entire neighborhoods virtually undetected.
A subterranean termite colony consists of:
- Swarmers – Also known as alates, swarmers are dark brown, ¼ – ½ inch long, two pairs of wings. Their wings are close to equal length. They often die with their wings still attached, unlike their drywood termite counterparts.
- Workers – These are the termites that move soil and wood through the mud tubes. Workers don’t have wings, are ¼ inch in length and cream colored. If you’ve seen mud tubes inside or outside your home, it’s likely worker termites who are bringing the colony to you.
- Soldiers – Defenders of the nest, soldiers have no wings and large jaws, are creamy white in color except their head which is brownish in color.
Subterranean termites only eat soft wood, leaving hardwood behind.
Drywood termites thrive in the wood they consume, literally eating themselves out of house and home. This species doesn’t need the soil to survive and can tolerate long periods of dry weather like we have in Phoenix. They don’t need water; rather drywood termites get moisture from the wood they consume.
They typically feast on structural or framing wood, wood piles, and when these sources aren’t available, they will dine on plant material and cardboard which contains their favorite food – cellulose.
- Swarmers – Also called alates, drywood swarmers have two sets of wings with the front set being patterned with colored veins. They quickly shed their wings after swarming so their dead bodies don’t have wings, distinguishing them from subterranean termites.
- Workers – The work is completed by young termite, also called nymphs.
- Soldiers – Drywood soldiers have large jaws and teeth that are wider than their heads. Soldiers and workers of drywood colonies are larger than their subterranean counterparts.
Whether subterranean or drywood, termites in Phoenix cause a lot of damage.
If your neighbor has said they have termites, you’re going to need help!