There are two types of termites to be worried about in Arizona. The more common of the two is the Drywood Termite. But some occurrences of Subterranean Termites are found also.
The Drywood termite is the termite that we get the most calls about here in the High Desert of Arizona. Drywood termites have smaller colonies than subterranean termites but still can cause plenty of damage none the less. They live in wood generally with a moisture content of 12% or less and do not need to return to the earth like a subterranean termite. Since they can live in dry wood, they can be easily transported to different structures in infested wood. These termites will also eat across the grain of the wood unlike the subterranean, making velvety smooth galleries that lack the presence of soil since these termites do not use the moisture of the soil for survival.
The alates (swarmers or winged termites) generally enter the wood on the ends so tight corner joints in the construction can help keep them from entering the wood. When the alates enter the wood and create a nuptual chamber, many never survive just because they choose a poor location. If they happen to choose a location that get directs sunlight that causes the wood to get too hot, they generally will not survive. Most colonies are in somewhat climate controlled areas like crawl spaces, interior side of windows and doors, and interior boards around garage door openings. You will start to find fecal pellets as the colony matures and may think it looks like grains of sand. If you start to notice suspicious piles of pellets around the home, have it checked out by a termite control expert.
Subterranean termites are not as common in our area as they are in other parts of the country. They create mud tunnels to commute back and forth between soil and structure.