Arid Land Subterranean Termites

Facts, Identification & Control


Reticulitermes tibialis


Arid land subterranean termites look similar to many other subterranean termite species that have three major castes (adult reproductives, workers and soldiers). The adults are about 1⁄2-inch long when winged and about 3/8-inch long after they've lost their wings. They are dark brown to black with wings that are nearly clear except for the wing veins. Soldiers are about the same size as the adults, but have longer mandibles that are designed to fend off predators. The worker caste resemble light-colored ants and are the foragers that consume cellulose material.


Workers consume wood – brush, cut wood, dead tree limbs from living trees and animal manures. The arid land subterranean termite is much less damaging to houses than the eastern subterranean termite.

Arid land subterranean termites regularly attack various types of greasewood and creosote. However, when homes are built in this habitat and the termite's natural wood sources are removed or reduced, this termite often attacks structures.

The timing of reproductive swarming depends on the elevation. For example, in Arizona this termite swarms January through March at altitudes below 4,000 feet, and June through July at altitudes above 4,000 feet. Arid land subterranean termites are known to live in the Rocky Mountain states where altitudes exceed 7,000 feet. However, this termite is also found in moist river lowlands along waterways.


Reproduction occurs when winged males and females (alates) leave the original colony in a series of reproductive swarming. As the male and female alates land on the ground, they mate, lose their wings and start searching for a suitable place to initiate a colony. The colony site begins as a chamber where mating takes place and the queen (the fertilized female alate) begins to lay eggs. In general, a very small number of alates survive to produce colonies.


Evidence of an infestation include finding swarming termites, piles of shed wings around windows and doors, mud tubes and wood in the house that is weak, soft and has peeling or bubbled paint.


The arid land subterranean termite is found in locations with plenty of sun and little water from the Western U.S. to Indiana and south into Mississippi.


Arid land subterranean termite control is labor intensive and exacting. Always contact your pest management professional to confirm whether you have a termite problem. If you need termite control, your pest management professional will make recommendations for treatment for your home. In addition, your pest management professional may suggest that your termite control program include an annual termite inspection.

Termite Control

How do you know if you have termites?

Learn the signs to look for to determine if you might have a termite infestation.

Why should you be worried?

Termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in damage each year and most insurance plans don’t cover the damage.

Schedule a FREE inspection

We’ll determine whether you actually have termites, then discuss a treatment plan including financing that works for you.

What Orkin does.

Learn what to expect from your Orkin Technician.