So You Have a Problem:

How Do You Know if it’s Termites?


Insects that do structural damage are bad, no doubt about it. Most of the time when we think we may have a problem with insects it’s because we’ve seen something different, something we don’t understand. We may go into denial at first, thinking it can’t really be “that bad” yet. We delay finding out what it is because we think we have plenty of time. Then we wonder, how do we know exactly what the problem is?

Carpenter ants and termites are both wood eaters and both can do structural damage because they make tunnels in the wood beams that support our walls, ceilings and floors. Termites do more damage more quickly; there is no doubt about that. The three different types of termites that we have in Arizona all have slightly different habits. So, How do you know what kind of pest problem you have?

Carpenter ants: These insects are truly ants and so they have three sections to their bodies. Most of the time carpenter ants will be black or brown and a solid color. In larger ants it may appear that there is a stripe or to on the back end. They dig their way through the wood and have no preference over the soft spring wood or the harder summer wood. They prefer damp wood so check around leaks for evidence. They keep their tunnels clean by kicking the sawdust out of the tunnels and you may actually see a small hole with saw dust piled beneath it.

Dampwood Termites: These termites are more likely to be seen near water but if you are invaded, they too prefer leaks as points of entry. Dampwood termites will seal the holes behind them if they are starting a colony. They do not want ants coming in after them. They create mud from the water, earth and wood. The wood will become soft as if it is rotting because they preserve and reuse the water available to them. There will be no saw dust.

Drywood Termites: These termites are usually found in old dry wood. They do not require a water source or contact with the ground. They will build a new colony inside of a structure, often choosing furniture or attics for their home. They leave an opening in their tunnel and kick out the refuse which is like tiny wood pellets. It doesn’t look like sawdust, it looks like tiny balls. They may make more than one kick hole for this purpose.

Subterranean Termites: These termites require contact with the ground. Their home is in the ground, not your house. They will tunnel through anything including insulation to get to the wood. The colony has many individuals that are workers and it’s their responsibility to feed everyone that is not a worker. They feed the King, Queen, larvae and soldiers. The entrance to your home is made through mud tubes. You may see the mud tubes rising up the side of your home, or it they may be under your foundation. Once these termites have decided that your home is their grocery store they will keep coming back for more. Since there are not always live termites in your wall it could be a while before you see evidence.

Sorry for going on so long, I know this knowledge is important. Termites are related to cockroaches and so have a wide body rather than distinct sections. They are generally white or cream colored although their heads may be brown or orange depending on age and class. Winged alates will have a darker color and they will swarm to start a new colony.

Termites in Arizona are best addressed with professional termite technicians. These individuals have been trained to tell the difference between species of insects and they know where to look for evidence. They have to pass rigorous tests before they can administer the chemicals to treat your home and property. If you are wondering whether you have a problem, you are better off calling for your free termite inspection now. Then you’ll know for sure.


Tempe AZ –

Termite Control Arizona

1753 E BROADWAY, STE #101

TEMPE, AZ 85282

(480) 630-3019