Spotting subterranean termites may not be an everyday occurrence in Arizona’s deserts, but the damage they do should prompt periodic inspections. Termites are a dreaded pest in warm climates. The annual damage they do to buildings and crops in the U.S. each year goes well over a billion dollars.
They’re as happy eating the wood in homes and buildings as they are in forests or fields. Even worse, termites are reclusive by nature and frequently the damage you see is only on the surface.
What They Look Like
Since subterranean termites live below ground when they’re not inside your home’s timbers, you have to search deliberately for them most of the time. They live in the soil and are white with brown heads. At first glance, they’re often mistaken for maggots, but the presence of legs and antennae on termites are certain giveaways.
Some may have wings, and those form the group that reproduces. Like bees and ants, termite colonies have queens. A few times a year, the winged subterranean termites will swarm, to look for a new place to continue their constant search for food.
They don’t like exposure to air, since it dries their outer body out, hence their life underground. They move from the soil to the wood they eat by constructing tubes. In fact, the tubes are often the first and only sign that termites are present.
Their tubes have an unmistakable appearance. They’re the same color as the soil and look like thick pencils formed from the dirt. Subterranean termites construct them as passageways from the soil to their food sources. Ironically, this common desert termite can’t tolerate drying out and the tubes keep them moist.
The subterranean termites form them horizontally and vertically. You may find them running along your home’s foundation and disappearing into the siding. Sometimes you’ll see the tubes running along the ground and up a tree or cactus trunk. Sometimes you’ll see a buildup of dirt starting at the base of palm trees and spreading up the trunks.
Wherever they are, the tubes signal the presence of subterranean termites. The faster you act, the less damage they can do to your landscaping and your home. Termites are ambitious insects and an invasion can go from mild to severe quickly.
Prevention is Key
- Avoid landscaping next to your home’s foundation. The water you provide and the cellulose in the plants will attract subterranean termites. Keep plants at least 12 inches from the foundation, and use drip irrigation.
- Make sure that rainwater drains away from the foundation of your home. Check the drainage patterns of your home just after a rain. If it ponds close to the slab, use gutters and downspouts to direct the water flow.
- Make it a point to walk around the exterior perimeter of your home and yard a few times a year to look for termite tubes or suspicious dirt deposits on the plants.
What to Do
Since signs of subterranean termites are never good news, the best thing to do is call Budget Brothers Termite & Pest as we specialize in termite eradication. Although you’ll find do-it-yourself products at home centers, they’re seldom strong enough to wipe out an infestation and stop the damage to your home and yard. It’s also difficult to reach the affected parts of the home for immediate treatment.
Subterranean termites pose a threat to homes all over the Phoenix area. If you suspect you have termites and would like to schedule an inspection, contact Budget Brothers Termite. We can prevent and eradicate these destructive pests from your home and yard.