Desert Termites

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Desert Termite Facts

  • Desert termites live in soil and build earthen tubes to live in.
  • Unlike most termites, they typically feed on live, dead or decomposed plant materials, rarely causing damage to structures.
  • Desert termite alates measure from 1/2 to 5/8 inches in length.

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What Are Desert Termites?

The southwestern United States is home to ten different types of termites, including drywood and subterranean termites. A type of subterranean termites, desert termites, Gnatham¬itermes tubiformans, live in the soil and build earthen tubes to protect themselves from the desert elements. However, desert termites, most common in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona are surface foragers and aren’t interested in doing any structural damage to your home or business or any other man-made wooden structures and for the most part do not harm rangeland, crops or even turfgrass.

What desert termites do best is what termites do naturally in the wild. They break down dead plant material into usable soil nutrients that replenish depleted soil. Additionally, desert termite nesting habits can improve soil and increase water retention. Overall, desert termites benefit desert ecosystems and are considered a keystone species in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Differences between Subterranean Termites and Desert Termites

Distinguishing between desert termites and the destructive subterranean termite species might sound challenging but is actually easier than you might think. For best results contact a pest control professional, such as Truly Nolen to schedule a free inspection.

Desert termite alates measure from 1/2 to 5/8 inches in length, whereas subterranean termites alates are less than a 1/2-inch long. Desert termite alates’ wings and bodies are light brown but subterranean termites have black bodies and transparent wings with veins. Desert termites swarm at sunset after a summer rain but subterranean termites swarm during the day after a rain shower from January to April.

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