2012 Arizona Termites Swarm Season underway!
Metro Phoenix area homeowners are reporting large swarms of winged Arizona termites in and around their homes as recent monsoon rains have kicked off the 2012 swarm season.
Native Subterranean termites (Heterotermes) are the most common and destructive species of termites found in the Phoenix area. Heterotermes in Arizona are notorious for attacking homes, wood utility poles, wood structures and creating millions of dollars worth of damage yearly.
Native subterranean termites are usually 4-6 times smaller than other species which give them a unique ability to enter a structure undetected via small expansion joints and stress cracks. While colonies tend to be smaller in size this species will often co-exist with 10-15 other colonies on the same lot. Homes under attack by multiple colonies can be damaged in a relatively short time.
Native subterranean termites prefer to eat the soft wood of a two by four which contains the most moisture and is easier to digest. Damaged wood appears honeycombed, with soil in the galleries.
Native subterranean termites are less dependent on moisture and decay than other subterranean termites in Arizona. They will readily attack dry, sound wood. A typical sign of infestation is the presence of drop tubes coming from the ceiling joists and drywall, or shelter tubes appearing on the stem wall.
Native subterranean termites prefer to forage in shaded soil and/or areas made wet by recent rainfall.
They construct mud shelter tubes up stem walls, over or around solid objects in order to reach a food source. These mud-tubes are slender, solidly built and pale yellow to tan in color. Darker soil usually indicates fresh tubes with a high moisture content. As tubes age (dry out) they become lighter in color and brittle.
The mud-tubes are more circular in cross section than those of the other Arizona subterranean termites whose mud-tubes are flattened in cross section and dirty light brown in color.
Native subterranean termites often swarm at night during the monsoon season, from July to September, usually shortly after rain storms. The moist soil provides the nuptial swarmers with the best chance of surviving and developing a new colony. The male and female pair off and enter the soil where they excavate a cavity or cell.
A well-developed mature colony may contain more than 300,000 termites, including a large number of secondary reproductives (queens) that can readily break off from the primary colony to form separate colonies. Native subterranean termites commonly have a foraging territory of up to almost an acre.