Subterranean termite infestation of urban structures in the Tucson basin: Patterns and influences.
AuthorColwell, Curt Edward.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractA three-part study was conducted to characterize and assess the impact of subterranean termite infestation of urban structures in Tucson, Arizona. A termite control questionnaire was administered to all Tucson-based pest control firms offering termite control services, of which 52 percent responded. Twelve study sites were established in and around the city, with toilet paper rolls serving as termite bait at each site. In addition, 5943 active termite control contracts were accessed from Tucson's largest pest control company, and analyzed with accompanying data from various sources including those pertinent to structure location, construction, treatment history, and surrounding soil types. An estimate of over $3 million for gross annual income derived from commercial termite control services performed in Tucson, was calculated from questionnaire responses. Termide (heptachlor + chlordane) was the most frequently used termiticide. Approximately 45 percent of commercial termite control jobs were performed with Termide, the principal termiticide used by 85.7 percent of companies offering termite control services. Gnathamitermes perplexus (Banks) was most prevalent in the toilet paper rolls at bait sites, followed by Heterotermes aureus (Snyder) and Reticulitermes tibialis Banks. G. perplexus infested bait at sites that resembled the surrounding desert while H. aureus and R. tibialis generally infested those which had been significantly altered by irrigation and landscaping. H. aureus and, to a lesser degree, R. tibialis, are by far the most economically important of the 18 termite species inhabiting Tucson and the surrounding area. Significant interrelationships were found between termite contract density, customer affluence, housing density, structure age, and soil permeability, and also between retreatment rate, foundation type, and materials used in wall construction. The percentage of structures under contract requiring retreatment was estimated to be between 17.3 percent and 42.7 percent per year. Analysis utilizing termite control contracts is suggested as a unique and effective approach providing critical insight into factors influencing termite communities and patterns of infestation in the urban environment.