One of my real estate school instructors was known for saying, “There are two types of homes in Phoenix; homes that have had termites and homes that are going to get termites.”
By some estimates, an acre of land here in the Valley can host an average of 15 termite colonies. Colonies run as deep as 20 feet below the surface and each is comprised of between 60,000 to 200,000 termites. That’s up to 3 million termites per acre sizing up the next tasty piece of real estate.
Given enough time, they will eventually find your home. Florida has hurricanes, California has earthquakes, and Arizona has termites. It is just a fact of life here in the Sonoran Desert. If you own a home here or plan to buy one, an ounce of prevention will go far.
What Types of Termites are Found in Phoenix?
There are two principal types of termites found in homes in the Phoenix metro area; subterranean and drywood termites. The subterranean variety comprises about 90% of the residential termite service calls here in the Valley, according to one contractor. The drywood termite is much more common in California. It is faster-eating than the subterranean termite, but is the rarer of the two types here in the Phoenix metro.
The subterranean termites came calling for me earlier this winter. Two months ago, my girlfriend noticed a single subterranean termite mud tube on the wall in her garage. There were also microscopic 1-milimeter pinhole tubes (or drop tubes) that had formed on a bedroom ceiling in a 1980s-era room addition. Her house is a 1973 John F. Long ranch home with 4 bedrooms and 1,400 square feet.
I shopped estimates from a total of three Phoenix termite treatment companies.
One of the termite contractors stood out in terms of communication and exhaustive evaluation of all areas of her property. My final choice was not the least expensive, but was one of only two in the group that offered a warranty. This contractor had a plan to cover 360-degrees of the home, not just spot treatment of the affected areas that were offered by the other pest control companies.
I hired Vintage Pest Management to perform the termite treatment. I’m thrilled with their work.
Where to Look for Termite Damage
Stacey White, Vintage’s owner and lead technician, examined the room addition where the drop tubes had formed. She indicated that termites can come up through the crack between two adjoining concrete slabs. This is especially true if a slab for a new room addition did not receive a soil treatment for termites before construction. That is likely what happened here.
She then described a few common places where homeowners first notice termites in their homes. Garage stem walls get top billing. In addition, termite mud tubes are often found in the framing between the vertical garage door jambs in affected homes.
In older mid-century Phoenix homes with carports that have been converted to garages, the newer exterior wall may even be framed directly on the garage floor. This area is low-hanging fruit for termites. Any wood-to-earth contact in areas like landscaping timbers, raised garden bed boxes, wooden fences or front porch posts are also early targets.
One area to observe closely is underneath and around the kitchen sink. Plumbing penetrates concrete slabs at this location from below through sizable holes. It’s often overlooked because it might not be located on an exterior wall. This entry point for water supply and drain pipes through the slab is a back alley door for wood destroying insects.
Anecdotally, another common location that homeowners often first discover evidence of termites is the bedroom ceiling. It’s the one location that gets a lot scrutiny when you are trying to fall asleep.
Termite Treatment Methods
Stacey and a second technician, Mark, used a variety of methods today to treat the affected areas in the home.
First, 21 oz. of Termidor foam was sprayed into the ceiling cavities where tiny drop tubes had formed in the room addition. Next, a 6″ deep trench was dug around the exterior of the home. Holes were drilled 12″ inches apart around the foundation perimeter and horizontal concrete surfaces. They were then filled with a termiticide called Fuse®. It is effective against termites as well as ants and millipedes.
Total cost of the treatment for this home was $625 and the service is packaged with a 2-year warranty against new termite activity. Pricing varies with the square footage of the home, accessibility to affected areas, and extent of termite infestation. A technician from Vintage Pest Management will return to her home in 3 months to make sure that no new mud tubes or drop tubes have developed since the treatment.
Vintage Pest Management is a woman-owned business and serves Valleywide communities including Scottsdale, Mesa, Glendale and Sun City. Stacey and Brenda can be reached at 623-547-7418. Estimates are free of charge and can be set up online at www.vintagepestmanagement.com. Vintage also treats for scorpions, bees, wasps, spiders, cockroaches, fleas and ticks.
Like me, you will appreciate these gals and I think that you could benefit from their 360-degree approach to complete termite treatment for your Arizona home.
I received no compensation or incentive for my coverage of Vintage Pest Management in this post.
Some primal termite knocked on wood. And tasted it, and found it good. And that is why your Cousin May fell through the parlor floor today. – Ogden Nash, American poet and humorist, known for light verse poetry