foothills home photo

Termites in Arizona

foothills home photoA popular myth is that termites aren’t residents of our desert environment thanks to the hot weather and compacted dirt.  Quite to the contrary, Phoenix is one of the most hospitable environments for subterranean termites given the city’s rapid expansion in the last three to four decades.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that homeowners spend more than $2 billion annually on termite pest control and on repairs caused by termite damage.  Therefore, termite prevention and control are a critical part of home maintenance, even here in Arizona.

There are two kinds of termites:  dry wood and subterranean.  Both of these types are found in Arizona.  Subterranean termites, quite obviously, live underground, while dry wood termites fly and can enter via attics where they start colonies within the walls of a home.  Subterranean termites enter your home by building tubes made from mud, and then once they gain access to your home, they will mix the mud with drywall from your home’s interior.

The first thing to remember is that termites do work slowly.  Most termite colonies take 2-3 years to form.  Therefore, if you do see evidence of termites, you have time to determine how you’re going to deal with them most effectively, and it’s not going to be an emergency situation.  Generally speaking, termites become more active in times of moisture as they can’t move around without moisture.  So here in Arizona, that time is typically after monsoon season has ended, and the temperatures have dropped—mid-September through December.

It’s critical that you have a termite inspection of your home at least once a year.  In between the inspection times, be sure you personally walk around the exterior and interior of your home every few months to look for mud tubes (dry brown tubes the width of a pencil on the walls).   If you do discover evidence of termites in the form of these tubes, it’s time to call a termite exterminator.  New homes in Arizona are required to have a termite pretreatment (which consists of a soil treatment applied before the slab is poured).

This is a matter of opinion, but there’s an argument to be made that you should sign up for a termite service that will be around in the next several years so they can repeat the service if there are problems later on.  Finding a warranty service that will warrant the service is very important.

Finally, take steps to prevent future termites.  Preventing moisture from getting inside the walls of your home is critical.  Therefore, keep your home’s foundation dry by preventing irrigation systems from dripping or leaking near your home’s structure.  Keep attics well-ventilated and seal all openings into your home such as cracks and knotholes.  Taking these simple steps will go a long way to prevent these Arizona-loving insects.

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