Grass, termites and what they may eat. Here is Arizona we have a grass eating termite. Typically they eat desert cellulose cleaning up the desert. In the picture they are just eating the old dead tree bark. Sometimes you will see them building little castles in the yard. They usually don’t do any harm but it does freak out some people and from time to time we can treat around trees to stop them from doing any perceived damage.
You will occasionally see them in areas that are dry and they will build little tunnels over the lawn. This buildup looks like little castles and often look kind of unique in the yard or litter areas. They will buildup over leaves, small pieces of wood or twigs, manure, cactus and plant structures. They also are known as agricultural termites.
Jumping Cholla – If you live anywhere in the desert you know about these cactus. They will attack if you get close. OK they won’t attack but it seems like it. Its like they are magnetic. But a question was asked recently why don’t rodents or coyote’s ever have them attached? Or better yet why not Pack Rats? It’s called behavior modification, they learn and they learn quickly. It’s amazing cause almost every time I’m in the desert I get a few. I kneel to check a rodent station and get one in my knee or there might be bits and parts inside the bait station. Sometimes I even get them in my shoes, right through the soles and you think its a rock but surprise a needle shooting pain.
The dangers of the desert
So a word of caution, there are many things in the desert that can do you harm, rattlesnakes, Africanized Honeybees, rocks and cacti – so use extreme care. I seem to find almost all of these dangers as I’m doing my work. Stay tuned for a resent find in a rodent bait station.
I have seen Pack rat middens or dens full of this stuff, how do they do it – I have no idea. I was training a technician once and mentioned to be careful, I had no sooner turned around and he had them from toe to waist on his right leg pants. Painful and barbed, did I say ouuuuuch? But yet the animals seem to be impervious or maybe it’s just that they are smarter. You decide!
Well the monsoon has arrived and with all that rain comes the bugs. I usually say the bugs come in for 2 reasons, #1 not enough rain or #2 too much rain. Just like us the bugs need water, food and shelter and guess what that may be our home of business. Termites become more active this time of year mainly due to the increase of water, on the East Coast water is more abundant and they just seem to be active all year long. Termites create a tube in which to enter a home but that tube can often be hidden and that is the main reason to hire a Pest Management Professional to do that yearly inspection. If you live in the South I recommend a yearly inspection especially for your peace of mind.
All that water.
So when the ground becomes saturated the other bugs make for dryer land and sometimes that just happens to be your home or business. This picture below was from last week and you can see our parking lot is flooded. If this was your home this might be right up against your foundation. The more water and over time this may diminish your active termiticide.
5 billion in damages yearly throughout the U.S. with most of that damage occurring on the East Coast. The highest infestation of subterranean termites is really found in the Southeast, including Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi. Therefore the highest levels of damage probably occur in those states. Since we build houses right on top of termite colonies, we afford them the options to go straight into our homes. Then to make matters worse we use wood to build those homes and businesses. So what can you do to prevent termites?
Don’t allow wood to ground.
Don’t overwater, and don’t allow wood to get wet.
Keep an eye on areas of penetration of concrete slab, such as bath-traps and plumbing.
If you see anything that appears to be dirt on wall in form of tubes call a Pest Management Professional, like ProBest Pest Management 480-831-9328.
The beauty of the cactus is a wonderful spectacle to behold but watch out for those stickers, spines, barbs and the nasty ends. We have some wonderful cacti in Arizona, many bloom at various times of the year to trigger the reproduction mode and they attract many flying insects. People often ask and are concerned about all those flying insects – my answer is simple let them do their job and they will generally leave you alone.
First off these places are a distance to get to especially from Phoenix, so plan on spending some time out. Just a guess but it also is over a hundred miles apart.
To the local Native Americans, the land of Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument was an important cultural center. Hohokam trade routes bisect what is now the monument, and allowed for ease of movement through the Sonoran Desert as people looked to acquire resources and trade with neighboring cultures. To the O’Odham people, the fruits of saguaro and organ pipe cactus provided food during the hot Sonoran summer.
Here is a list of animals you might be lucky enough to see includes:
Lesser Long Nosed Bat,
more bird species than can be listed and
several species of reptiles, including Rattlesnakes.
Fort Huachuca, constructed in 1877, was one of a chain of forts established to guard southern Arizona against the Chiricahua Apaches, led by Geronimo.
So yesterday I mentioned that you needed to understand your enemy, often times I think I do and then this happens. See these pictures below, I just don’t understand why rodents like to gather cactus, I would think it would be harmful.
The “jumping cholla” name comes from the ease with which the stems detach when brushed, giving the impression that the stem jumped. Often the merest touch will leave a person with bits of cactus hanging on their clothes or imbedding itself into your skin or to be discovered later when either sitting or leaning on them. The ground around a mature plant will often be covered with dead stems, and young plants are started from stems that have fallen from the adult. They attach themselves to desert animals and are dispersed for short distances. (Wikepedia)
Gnathamitermes perplexus, these are crust-building subterranean desert termites, they feed on grass, dried plant parts and weathered outer surfaces of woody tissues of all kinds. They may also feed on old fences and occasionally drywall paper.
Usually not to worry about any effects to any trees or bushes, termites eat dead wood. So not to worry!
This photo is a cholla that somehow made its way into a taller tree, no idea how it did that. But it’s interesting to note that these things will jump (OK not really jump but attach to) almost anything.
The cholla (pronounced choy-a) is perhaps the most feared and hated cacti in the southwest desert. I have seen all kinds of trouble with this cactus. If you brush up against one, you will immediately wished you had paid attention. The spines will stick to anything and they will stick, stick and stick some more….
The plant has pads that separate easily from the main stem. The spines easily attach to your clothing, your skin and your shoes. Since the plant is covered with spines, it’s difficult to grab and dislodge the pad that has found a new home with you. Often re-sticking it’s way deeper and more often. I often wonder how animals might adapt, can you imagine getting this caught in a tail or fur? Got to hurt!
Why are they so difficult to remove? Unlike other varieties of cacti with solid spines, cholla’s actually have hollow spines. Because they are hollow they can easily attach to whatever they touch with their needle like sharpness. If there is moisture, such as with skin, the tips actually curve once they have made contact, locking their spines in place just underneath the skins top layer.
There are several types of Jumping Cholla cacti in the desert southwest, but all of them are called the “jumping” cacti in past days because they seemed to jump when a boot or shoe would walk on or get near them.
How could a plant so nasty be so beautiful? Good question and one more mystery of the desert. The plant (especially the Teddy Bear Cholla with its golden spines) is quite beautiful at sunrise and sunset. As the sun catches the tips of the spines, the plants radiate a cast of yellow, and look quite soft sometimes with an appearance of velvet. Add to this the pink flower it produces and the plant is delightful to look at … but not touch. Because some of the Jumping Cholla cacti can grow to heights of 8 feet tall, they look like strange, distorted trees, each with its own personality.
Believe it or not, the cactus wren builds nests on the Jumping Cholla. The nests are quite secure amongst all the spines and the bird knows how to avoid the spines of the Jumping Cholla.
This plant propagates and spreads throughout the desert by its own defense mechanisms: Its spines attach to anything that can carry it around, animals, people, the wind. When a Jumping Cholla finds a new home, with a little time, and contact with the soil, it begins to root and grow.
One of my favorite places in Arizona is the Desert Sonoran Museum there are almost 2 miles of paths traversing 21 acres of beautiful desert, including many cacti.
Termites break down wood debris in nature, you can find them in logs and here in Arizona cactus and even grass. Termites are always looking for food 24/7/365 and they will do whatever they have to to find it.