Termites in Arizona: Identifying the 4 Major Species

Are you aware that Arizona is home to four distinct termite species? Drawing a parallel with bees, termites too are eusocial creatures. Each group within the termite colony undertakes specific roles, a characteristic inherent to all termite species found in Arizona.

The industrious worker termites nourish and uphold the colony, whereas the gallant soldier termites stand guard, defending their realm. The reproductive faction, known as swarmers, consists of the paramount queen.

Their pivotal responsibility? Augmentation of their current domain and the inception of nascent colonies. The prolific queen tirelessly lays hundreds, if not thousands, of eggs, ensuring the unbroken continuity of the colony.

Then, we have the winged termites, the airborne male and female alates, emerging from their native colonies with the mission to mate and establish new nests in uncharted territories.

Termites in Arizona

Termites in Arizona

A common query many have is, do termites pose a biting threat to humans? The answer is quite fascinating. Termites infrequently interact with humans in such a manner.

Termite bites seldom have detrimental effects as these insects don’t actively seek humans nor feed on their blood.

Instead, their appetite primarily gravitates towards wood, leading to accelerated wood degradation, translating to significant property damage.

Delve deeper to acquaint yourself with the quartet of termite species endemic to Arizona. Gain insights on how to identify Termites in Arizona, discern their preferred sustenance, and recognize telltale indicators, such as unique termite droppings, signaling an impending infestation.

The Four Types of Termites in AZ:

#1: Desert Subterranean Termites: An Arizona Native

Desert Subterranean Termites

Thriving in the arid warmth of extreme desert climates, the Desert Subterranean Termite is predictably a native of Arizona, especially its southern terrains. Often residing in desert flora like cacti, they are also drawn to the pliable, porous layers within the timber, known as springwood.

This affinity can result in considerable damage to infrastructure essentials like utility poles and building timbers. Their handiwork often manifests as patterns evocative of honeycombs.

  • Characteristics of Desert Subterranean Termites

Swarmers of this species, inclusive of their wings, attain a length of roughly 3/8″. Exhibiting a hue ranging from a delicate cream to a soft amber, their wings are distinguished by conspicuous veins encased within an almost transparent wing membrane. Interestingly, the head’s fontanelle is often faint, at times entirely absent.

Contrastingly, the soldier termites display a more rectangular physique, approximately double in length compared to its breadth.

The width of their flattened body rivals that of their heads. Equipped with elongated, potent jaws, these termites boast slender mandibles with a gentle curvature. Notably, they are diminutive in stature compared to the swarmers.

A unique attribute of the Desert Subterranean Termite is its ability to thrive without the moisture many of its counterparts crave.

Demonstrating a penchant for parched wood, indicators of their presence include the emergence of drop tubes from architectural elements such as ceiling rafters or plasterboard. The manifestation of honeycombed timber and minute perforations in sheetrock are further harbingers of their activity.

#2: Arid Subterranean Termites: Arizona’s Prevalent Inhabitants

Arid Subterranean Termites

The Arid Subterranean Termite claims the title of being the most widespread termite species across Arizona. Their adaptability is commendable, flourishing in diverse terrains from the austere expanses of deserts to the deep recesses of canyons, meandering rivers, undulating sand dunes, and even elevated terrains surpassing 4,000 feet. Intriguingly, their swarming epochs fluctuate with altitude, predominantly spanning between May and October.

In terms of morphological attributes, this species aligns closely with the typical characteristics of subterranean termites, classifying into the familiar three primary castes. Adults, when winged, approximate a length of 1/2″, which marginally recedes to 3/8″ post-wing detachment.

Their color spectrum oscillates between profound shades of dark brown to an intense black, while their wings exude an almost diaphanous appearance, save for the distinctly veined patterns.

The soldier caste brandishes pronounced mandibles, instrumental in fending off adversaries. Contrastingly, worker termites exhibit a paler hue, bearing a striking semblance to ants. It is this segment of the colony that shoulders the onus of scavenging for cellulose-rich sustenance.

Predominantly wood connoisseurs, their gastronomic preferences extend to an eclectic range of cellulose-rich sources. This includes desert flora such as native trees and the skeletal ribs of cacti.

Their incessant quest for nourishment and hydration often leads them to assail residential structures, demonstrating an uncanny proclivity for diverse materials—ranging from insulating materials, paper, stucco, and pool linings to organic fiber-infused carpeting.

#3: Western Drywood Termites: Covert Colonizers

Western Drywood Termites

Contrary to their moniker, Western Drywood Termites possess an affinity for dry wood yet intriguingly find their primary habitats within coastal regions. Their methodical and unhurried approach belies the staggering structural havoc they can wreak. A unique characteristic is their propensity to establish multiple colonies within a single edifice, each teeming with approximately 2,000 members.

A closer look at the swarmer reveals it to be about 1/2″ in length, inclusive of its wings. Notably, the wings, extending about 3/8″, boast dark veins prominently on the forewing. These termites exhibit a chromatic contrast with their abdomen donning a deep brown shade, while their head flaunts a more amber-brown hue.

The head’s topography gently cascades with pallid ocular features. In stark contrast, soldier termites are easily identifiable by their mandibles, which curiously have an asymmetrical dental count, complemented by pronounced, club-shaped antennae.

In their architectural endeavors, Western Drywood Termites meticulously craft chambers by navigating across the wood grain, interconnecting these chambers with intricate tunnels.

A remarkable hallmark of their handiwork is the pristine walls of these galleries and passages, devoid of any soil.

Instead, one might encounter fecal pellets, unique in their morphology – resembling six-faceted elongate ovals, each approximately 1/32″ in length. Indicators of an invasion include sightings of the swarmers, their discarded wings, and peculiar wood “blisters” – a consequence of expansive galleries nearing the wood’s exterior.

A word of caution: the inadvertent relocation of these termites is all too common, often facilitated by the unwitting transportation of termite-laden furniture or other wooden artifacts.

#4: Desert Dampwood Termites: Arizona’s Moisture-Seeking Colonizers

Desert Dampwood Termites

At first glance, Arizona’s arid landscape might seem an unlikely habitat for dampwood termites, given their penchant for wood saturated with moisture. Yet, amidst the parched terrains, the Desert Dampwood Termite has carved a niche for itself, predominantly favoring subterranean habitats.

These termites display an unerring affinity for citrus groves, delving deeper into a diverse menu that includes other flourishing trees and shrubs. Rather than sourcing moisture from decaying wood, they ingeniously derive it from the sap of these verdant plants.

Standing in stark contrast to other termite species in Arizona, the Desert Dampwood impresses with its size. Soldier termites can reach lengths of 20 mm, while the winged swarmers, boasting their impressive appendages, stretch to a formidable 25 mm.

A characteristic feature of this species is their pronounced heads, equipped with formidable pincers. Eschewing the conventional worker termite hierarchy, it’s the juvenile termites of this species that shoulder the responsibility of nourishing and sustaining the colony.

Invasions orchestrated by these termites predominantly target ground-level or subterranean domains. Their victims range from thriving trees to untreated utility poles, wooden barriers, and foundational posts that share an intimate connection with the soil.

Should suspicions arise concerning a potential termite breach within your residence, don’t hesitate to reach out to Arizona Pest Solutions.

Our team of seasoned termite specialists ensures an exhaustive scrutiny of your premises. Upon identifying telltale signs of termite activity, they will elucidate viable treatment strategies, accompanying their insights with a complimentary cost estimate.

How to Remove Termites from Houses in Arizona?

How to Remove Termites from Houses in Arizona

Termites, often dubbed the “silent destroyers”, wreak havoc on countless homes in Arizona.

As these pests silently consume your home, understanding their nature and habits is the key to eradicating them.

Addressing a termite problem promptly can save homeowners significant repair costs.

Understanding the Enemy: Types of Termites in Arizona

Arizona, with its unique desert ecosystem, is host to several termite species, each with distinct behaviors and habitats:

  • Desert Subterranean Termites: These termites thrive in the arid heat, typically feasting on desert plants and timbers.
  • Arid Subterranean Termites: Ubiquitous across various Arizona terrains, from canyons to high altitudes, they have a varied diet that includes wood and cellulose material.
  • Western Drywood Termites: Often found in coastal regions, they can cause monumental damage by establishing multiple colonies within a single structure.
  • Desert Dampwood Termites: These termites are anomalies in the arid region, relying on wood with a high moisture content, often found around citrus groves.

Signs of a Termite Infestation

Identifying an infestation early is crucial for limiting damage. Look out for:

  • Mud tubes: Termites build these pencil-thin paths along walls, foundations, and crawl spaces to maintain their humidity levels.
  • Hollow-sounding timber: Termites prefer the cellulose in wood, leaving a mere veneer which, when tapped, sounds hollow.
  • Frass: These termite droppings are telltale signs of their presence.
  • Swarming termite wings: Shed wings often indicate termites have chosen their home for their new colony.

Natural and Chemical Solutions for Termite Removal

To bid adieu to these pests, consider these approaches:

  • Diatomaceous earth: A natural insect killer, this powdery substance inflicts lethal cuts on termites.
  • Borate salt treatments: Applied to wood, it not only kills termites but deters them.
  • Beneficial nematodes: These are microscopic worms that seek out termite larvae, entering their hosts to feed.
  • Liquid termite treatments: These chemical barriers deter and kill termites attempting to infiltrate your home.

Preventive Measures: Keeping Termites at Bay

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Adopt these strategies:

  • Routine inspections: Regular professional checks ensure early detection.
  • Moisture control: Termites thrive in moist environments. Keep your home dry to make it less inviting.
  • Wood treatments: Apply protective solutions to make wood inedible for termites.
  • Barrier installations: Use physical or chemical barriers to impede termite entry.

More Related Guides:


Having journeyed through the intricacies of termite species that find sanctuary in Arizona’s diverse landscapes, homeowners are now armed with invaluable knowledge.
It’s crucial to remember that the presence of these industrious insects isn’t merely a nuisance, but a potential threat to the very foundation of your abode.
By implementing the insights and strategies discussed in this article, Arizona residents can take proactive measures to safeguard their homes against these stealthy invaders.
Stay vigilant, employ our recommended tactics, and ensure your residence remains a termite-free sanctuary in the heart of Arizona.