Both Wheeler’s (Amitermes wheeleri) and the tube-building termite (Gnathamitermes perplexus) are thought to be “true” desert termites, because they attack a wide variety of desert plants and materials such as fences, dead grass, or weeds. They construct wide plaster-like earthen tubes on palm trees or wooden structures where they feed by scraping dead wood off the exterior. The homeowner may find these tubes or plates unsightly, but Wheeler’s termites do not cause structural damage to homes.
Winged reproductives of both species swarm in the summer following rain showers. Reproductives of Gnathamitermes perplexus are 14 to 15 mm long with wings and 8 mm long without wings. Their head and thorax is dark brown, and the abdomen is cross-striped with dark brown and cream-colored bands. Wheeler’s termite reproductives are 11 mm long with wings and 5-6 mm long without wings. They are dark brown. The soldiers of both species have jaws curved inwards with an obvious inner tooth. This feature can be used to distinguish the damaging species above from these desert species. The soldiers of Wheeler’s termite are slightly shorter, approximately 4 mm long. Its jaws are shorter in length than its head. Gnathamitermes soldiers are 5 to 6 mm long and have incurved jaws as long as their head.
Source: The University of Arizona