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Desert Subterranean Termites

Desert subterranean termites are commonly distributed throughout the lower deserts of northwestern Mexico, southern California and southern Arizona. Here are a few important facts you should understand about the behavior of desert subterranean termites, compared to the more common Eastern or subterranean termites such as Formosan or Eastern subterranean:

  • Desert subterranean termites are able to survive in drier conditions than Formosan or Eastern subterranean termites.
  • Soldiers of desert subterranean termites are characterized by their slender and straight mandibles, in contrast to the relatively thick, curved mandibles of Formosan or Eastern subterranean termites.
  • Their small size and ability to forage under dry conditions allows them to occupy a niche not exploited by other subterranean termite species.
  • Preliminary research suggests that baiting for desert subterranean termites requires more time than for others. Given the small size of desert subterranean termite soldiers and workers, they are apt to penetrate smaller cracks in concrete and masonry that are too narrow for foragers of other subterranean termites to enter.
  • Subtle differences in foraging behavior do exist. Foraging tubes are lighter in color, narrower, and more circular. Sometimes, desert subterranean termites will openly build very narrow, free-hanging tubes from ceilings, shelves and overhangs. Don't be surprised to see tubes as long as 6 to 12 inches in length. These tubes are often re-used by desert subterranean termites.

Termite Types


Mud tube on pier to beam above

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