During certain cycles of the year, termite colonies produce “swarmers.” These are the winged adult reproductives that leave their current residence to form their own colonies.
If you notice termite swarmers around your home, then they are most likely subterranean termites (depending on which part of the country you live in). These swarmers have likely moved into your yard from an underground nest.
Though they have wings, they are poor fliers.
One common sign that your home might be under a termite attack is the sudden appearance of anywhere from a few to hundreds of small, brown or black winged insects. These termite swarmers can be identified by the following characteristics: two sets of wings that are uniform in size, broad waist and straight-bead like antennae.
Eastern Subterranean Termites
The most common home-infesting termite found in the U.S. is the subterranean termite, specifically the eastern subterranean termite. These termites live underground and travel in mud tubes. There are two methods for treating a subterranean termite infestation. One of those treatments uses a liquid termiticide, which is applied to the soil around the structure. The termite must pass through a treated zone in the soil to get into the structure, which disrupts their dinner plans. The other method employs a bait system, which provides control by feeding the colony with the bait, thereby destroying the colony.
Swarming Termites vs Swarming Ants
Swarming termites and swarming ants look similar. If you find signs of winged insects, don't become antsy and assume that they are automatically termites. Schedule a free termite inspection with Terminix just to be sure.
Carpenter ants are commonly mistaken for termite swarmers. Both of these species have winged reproductives that swarm. When they swarm depends on the species of termite, the geographic location and it’s fairly weather dependent. Eastern subterranean termites usually swarm in the spring, first in the more southern states and then further north as temperatures rise. They will also, though rarely, swarm in the fall.
Flying ants can be identified by the following characteristics: Large forewings and small hindwings, narrow waist and segmented, elbowed antennae.
Termite Swarming Season
During certain times of the year, termite swarmers come out in full force. These swarmers leave their underground nests to fly away and locate mates. When is termite season? When they swarm depends on the species of termite, the geographic location and is fairly weather dependent. Eastern subterranean termites usually swarm in the spring following a rain event, first in the more southern states and then further north as temperatures rise.
Another factor that triggers swarming - the maturity of a colony. There is no specific age at which a termite colony swarms, but subterranean termite colonies typically do not produce a swarm until they are at least three years old.
Why do termites swarm?
The purpose of termite swarming season is to begin new colonies. As a colony matures, it begins to produce alate nymphs that will develop into swarmers with wings. Swarmers fly from the colony then pair up with a mate as they search for a suitable location to start a new colony. After their wings drop off, a pair will mate.
The female member in each of these new partnerships becomes the queen of her new colony. She lays her eggs, which eventually hatch and become workers in the colony. Some of the young termites will develop into soldiers and will be tasked with defending the queen and the other members of the colony.
Over her lifetime, a termite queen could lay a million eggs. Other reproductive termites (secondary reproductives) in a colony can also lay eggs, though the primary queen is mainly responsible as long as she lives. It is not until a queen dies that one of the secondary reproductives may take her place.
Termites in the House
Before termites get to work in your home, they will often build a mud tube wherever they enter and exit. The tubes can be small, about the diameter of a pencil, and up to several feet long. Remember, you will likely not see these small worker termites in your home. Worker termites don’t willingly expose themselves to light, or dry air, and usually stay well hidden behind walls or underground.
When they appear indoors, it’s likely that worker termites are active somewhere within the home.
Concrete slab construction can be a very susceptible type of home construction for termite activity because termites can enter the home through any tiny crack in the slab foundation. These are commonly the first areas where termite mud tubes can be detected.
Once in your home, termites can cause extensive and serious damage to the structure. However, this damage occurs slowly and often goes unnoticed, sometimes for several years. By the time signs of termite damage are spotted, expensive treatment and repairs may already be needed. That’s why it’s important to contact a termite control professional from the start, even before termite activity is suspected.
How to Help Get Rid of Termites
If you notice signs of termites in or around your home, it’s time to call a termite control professional to come and inspect it. Some telltale termite signs include: Discarded wings, mud tubes, hollowed or damaged wood and blisters in wood flooring