How to determine if you have termites in your home

The is part two of our series on Termites in the Phoenix area. In this part we will help to determine if you have termites in your home. If you have not read Part 1, we have a nifty quiz you can take to determine your risk of termites.

Termites are a part of home buyer’s inspections in the Phoenix area. Most people want to know if the home they are buying has active termites. In part two of our series on termites in the Phoenix area we will be discussing the type of termites we often see and how to determine if the pesky critters are actively munching on wood, carpets and such.

Termites in your home? What kind are they apt to be?

Subterranean Termites:

According to Termite.com and Burns Pest Management, the Desert Subterranean Termite is the most common one in Phoenix. These are the little guys that build the mud tubes we see on the stem wall of the home. There are 3 distinct termites in this family. Thus, if you have termites in your home in the Phoenix area, they are likely to be these little buggers.

termites in your home in Phoenix ArizonaSwarmers, AKA Alates. They are the primary reproductive critter in the colony with pale yellow-brown coloring and about 3/8″ long including their wings. When the wetter season comes swarming termites leave to form new colonies. Most of them get eaten by birds and ants but some survive and set up a new colony of wood munchers.

Worker termites: The workers are the ones eating and building the infrastructure of the colony. They feed the queen too as she can’t move.

termite info in phoenix azThe Queen: She rules the colony. There may be a few queens but one generally is above all. In her lifetime she can produce

Soldiers: The are the defenders of the colony. They are pretty scary looking with big squared off heads and large mandibles used to kill their enemies… usually ants.

Kings: The king and queen start out as swarmers. When they leave the colony that pair off to start a new one. The king stays with his queen for life.

Queens: The queens are the biggest termites in the colony and have a couple jobs. They secrete hormones that are believed to make communication possible among the colony members. Most importantly they lay eggs… lots of them. Can you guess how many? How does 20,000 to 30,000 sound. That’s about 1 every 3 seconds. Crazier than that, under ideal conditions the Queen can live for 50 years.

A well-developed mature colony of Desert subterranean termites may contain more than 300,000 termites, including a large number of secondary reproductive (queens) that can readily leave the primary colony to form separate colonies. Desert subterranean termites are big eaters and can have a foraging territory of up to almost an acre.

Drywood Termites:

The folks at Burns tell me that we have some drywood termites in the Phoenix area but near as many as subterranean. Drywood termites are more common in coastal environments and are sometimes found in older Phoenix area homes. Thus, some of our historic homes could have drywood critters. The big difference between the two species is drywood live in the home, are more arid tollerant, do not go underground , and do not go through the same growth cycle. Drywood termites simply grow up, get wings and fly off to a new place every few years.

What are the signs of termites in the Phoenix area?

In this section we’ll give our readers some of the signs you have termites. Just as an FYI… sometimes people think they have termites when they actually have carpenter ants. All in all it is a good idea to hire a professional to come out to the house and conduct a professional termite inspection. They are call professionals for a reason. We have contact info for Burns Pest Elimination and Invader Pest Control at the end of this article.

termites in your home in Phoenix AZTermite Mud Tubes:

Subterranean termites can’t handle our dry weather so they build little tubes for the workers to move from the earth to the house. We often see them during a termite inspections and are most common on the sides of the concrete foundation (AKA stem walls) and interior garage/storage room walls. The look like little mud tubes. We have a good picture of one so you’ll know what we mean. FYI… you can knock down the mud tube but that won’t send the wood munchers running. Professional treatment really is the way to go.

termites in your home Phoenix AZDamaged Baseboards, 2×4’s and other wood:

Inspectors often tap on base boards, wooden floors, door and window trim and other wood surfaces and listen for hollow sounds. They also lightly poke the wood with a screwdriver to see if it breaks through the surface. Sometimes you can actually see where the critters have eaten into structural wood in the attic, garage and other unfinished places.

Other Signs of Termite Infestation:

— Drywood termites do not build mud tubes but they do leave behind little pellet calling cards.

— Discarded wings is a good indication of the little buggers.Tubes on a wall

— Sometimes you’ll see what almost looks like strings coming down from the ceiling. They are not strings but signs you have tenants who are not paying rent.

Termite Tubes

Termite Treatment Options

There are a number of recognized termite treatment options. The big four are:

Termidor is a barrier style product by BASF

Premise is Bayer’s offering to termite control.

Altriset is a newer product by Dupont. It works by affecting the pest’s ability to eat.

Exterra uses bait traps to take out the colony.

You can find a lot of information on a termite related web site, Termite.com. The links above will take you to the Termite.com website.

We hope this information has been helpful. If you need professional termite inspections or treatment we suggest the following companies.

Burns Pest Elimination

Invader Pest Management

Blue Sky Pest Control


Gene Urban & Ron Urban
The Urban Team at Realty Executives
Specialists in downtown Phoenix, historic homes and north Phoenix
602-234-5777
Gene@UrbanTeamAZ.com

connecting people to the perfect place for over 20 years.

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