Termites! Oh My!

Termites on a Palm

I usually see mud plastered on trees, palms and saguaros during the monsoon season that looks like the picture above. These are termites that come up out of the ground to feed on the weathered wood on whatever substrate they choose. You can see their connection to the ground at the base of this palm. When the mud tunnels are active, you can rub them with your hand and find termites underneath. This one had been abandoned.

This fall I got quite a few calls from folks who were worried about their trees being infested with termites. They all turned out to be this type of infestation. I don’t remember seeing them in the fall before… Anyway, what about the poor tree? Does it need to be sprayed with insecticide?

Close View of Effect

You can see what has happened underneath the mud sheath – all the weathered surface has been cleaned up so that nothing but fresh wood is left. This is all these termites ever do! At least this is all I have ever seen them do.

Do any of my entomologist friends have a name for this species of termite? Can you explain what they are doing? I would be interested to learn more about these interesting insects! And my advice until I know more is – don’t bother spraying.