Destructive Termites in Montana
Identification of the main destructive species

It is critical to identify the species of destructive termites to formulate an appropriate control program. There are two main species of destructive termites in Montana.

Arid-land subterranean termites

Area of Distribution: The Arid-Land subterranean termite is commonly found from the Pacific Coast to Indiana, and southwards from Montana to lower California, Texas, and Mississippi. It is by far the most common and destructive termite in Arizona.
AREAS OF HIGH RISK IN MONTANA include Billings, Bozeman, Butte Silver Bow, Great Falls, Helena-MT, Kalispell, Missoula.
Identification of Swarmers and Soldiers: In locations below 4,000 feet the Arid-land termite swarms between January and March. Above 4,000 feet, they usually swarm in June and July. The swarmers are about 1/3” long with wings, and 1/5” long without wings. Their wings are almost whitish, with brown veins in the fore area. Swarmers are dark brown to black in color. The soldiers are 1/4” long, with jaws that are nearly straight. They resemble the jaws of the desert termite but are slightly thicker.
Biology and Habits: The Arid-land subterranean termite has been found living in sand dunes, as well as at altitudes above 7,000 feet in the Rocky Mountain states. It is also found in moist river low lands and along streams and canyons, but essentially it is a desert or prairie species. Arid-land subterranean termites naturally occur in deserts where they attack creosote and greasewood bushes as well as buildings and other timber structures.

Nevada dampwood termites

Area of distribution: This species is found from central California to British Columbia and eastward into Idaho, Nevada and Montana. Primarily a forest dwelling termite this termite is the common termite found in the Californian mountains. Higher and drier altitudes are preferred, ranging up to 9,000 feet above sea level.
Identification of Swarmers and Soldiers: Soldiers are similar in appearance to the Pacific dampwood termite, but with longer heads with straighter sides. The swarmer is a darker brown than the Pacific dampwood termite.
Identification of Timber Damage: The appearance of the damage inflicted upon timbers by this species is very similar to the Pacific dampwood termite.
Biology and Habits: This species is very similar in habit to the Pacific Dampwood termite. This species will attack wood of all types throughout its range. Timbers in contact with the soil or structures built near or over water are common targets. This species is known to be very tolerant of moist conditions, even being found in pilings subject to tidal flooding. Colony size varies but may contain as many as 4,000 individuals.
Colony growth is aided by the production of secondary reproductives. Like other termites this species aid in the spreading of wood decay fungi, the spores of which are carried in the gut and on their bodies. A well established colony will produce winged reproductives which may infest nearby timber.

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