Learning about termite swarms is super interesting. Reading this article from start to finish will give you
- A good foundation to understanding how termite swarms work.
- How deal with them if they are near or on your property
- And an understanding of why and when they swarm
So lets get into it…
What are Termite Swarmers?
These are winged young adult (female and male) termites that are looking for new colonies. Termite swarmers are also known as reproductive termites because they are responsible for growing and expanding new colonies.
Swarmers are bad silent destroyers. Every year that causes millions of property damage that isn’t covered by insurance. They stealthily enter properties and completely render structural frames useless in a couple of weeks.
How Does the Life of a Termite Swarmer Look Like?
The main aspect of a swarmer’s life starts when temperatures outside reach around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The insects get out and start to look for a mate. To do this, the females usually emit pheromones to signal the males they are ready to mate.
After a male locates its female counterpart, the couple will break off their wings to symbolize a new “union”. They find a new nest and end up becoming the king and queen of that colony.
Why Do Termites Swarm
These insects swarm after their original colonies have reached a high capacity and so it’s important for some members to leave. Swarming in most colonies happens once annually. Within a colony, thousands of alates i.e. swarmers are usually produced for expansion.
Swarmers normally live near the soil surface so that when the time is right, they can quickly take a flight. While in the air, the swarmer’s pair and the couple, thereafter, shed their wings. They find a new habitat to build a nest, mate and start to populate the next with offspring.
Termites usually prepare for swarming and the first day has the biggest release. There will definitely be subsequent release in the next coming days, the swarms are usually smaller.
What’s the Size of a Swarmer Termite?
The average size of a termite swarmer is around 3/8-inch long. Generally, these insects are usually black and they are averagely shorter compared to ant swarmers.
How Do You Identify a Termite Swarm?
It’s possible for a termite infestation to occur suddenly. With a blink of an eye, your property may be infested. So, to be ready and able to handle the situation before it spreads far and wide, you need to know how to identify a termite swarm.
Note: during the swarming stage, termites are searching for places where they can establish and expand their colonies. Correct and quick identification is, therefore, very important.
One of the things that confuse people is how these insects look. They resemble flying ants in so many ways. Further, the formation of colonies is something that occurs very fast. This instantly happens once the appropriate nest has been found.
The worst thing is that termites are survivors! They can easily form a home anywhere as long as there is adequate moisture content and there is cellulose around. But if you are keen, it’s possible to know the difference between flying ants and termites. Here are some of the distinct characteristics that can help you.
The body: termite swarmers have more straight waists while the flying ants have pinched waists.
- Antennae: ants have antennas that bent while termites have antennas that are straight.
- Length of the wings: the pair of wings in termites have the same length. On the other hand, the length of the wing varies in ants.
- Availability of wings: termites usually shed their wings after coupling. To identify an infestation, check for the presence of discarded wings because they usually fall off after the couple lands. Flying ants don’t discard wings.
Swarming At Night
Swarming at night isn’t something that’s unique to termites. This is something that has been witnessed from time to time. Well, this is because termites don’t use their eyesight but rather senses to move. The king and queen have weak eyesight that they use. Meanwhile, worker termites are completely blind. So, darkness doesn’t affect them.
Besides that, these insects tend to move and forage a lot during the spring and summer seasons. Now, day-time is usually warm and dry. However, the evenings are usually humid, between dusk and midnight and this is something that encourages them to get out.
Seasons When Swarming Is More Likely To Happen
Termite swarms are likely to appear at different seasons depending on the species. For instance, subterranean termite swarms during spring and summer seasons. Besides that, the insects may appear on a warm day and after a rainfall.
Drywood or dampwood termite swarms during fall and late summer. This is the period between August through to November. But there are significant variations regarding the season or when these insects typically swarm.
There are some subterranean termite species that swarm at different times. If the weather is favorable, then they will move. With the weather constantly changing and varying, this simply means that the same species of termites can still swarm at different times. Besides that, there are termite insects that actually love moisture and this may result in notable variations.
Notes: even though termites tend to infest and damage properties during the swarming season, they can still appear at any time of the year. So, always be keen, monitor your property, and protect it beforehand.
The Connection between Seasons and Termite Swarms
Blooming flowers during spring may attract certain species and trigger them to move to new locations. The wood is also starting to dry up and this means that they can easily find good frames of wood.
In summer, the colony is now fully settled and the insects start to eat and forage. The impact during this season may be devastating. Summer, unlike spring, is dry and humid. So, they have the comfort they need to eat and cause damage. With the predictable sunny weather, the secondary queens now lay massive amounts of eggs to increase the existing workforce.
Spring usually features rainfall that may soak their colonies and even result in the death of the important workers. During this period, the workforce is usually smaller and the members of the colony have to be protected.
How to Get Rid or Deter Swarming Termites
The best and most important way to deal with termite swarms is to first deter it. Protect your property from a possible infestation beforehand. You can do this by:
- Vinegar: use it to clean the bathrooms and kitchen counter. It’s effective in deterring termites from accessing the damp places.
- Light up dingy and dark places: termites don’t love sunlight because it makes them weak faster.in fact, if you expose them to too much sunlight they will die. Clean up and dry dark spaces and ensure that there is sufficient sunlight.
- Orange oil: spray some of the places where you expect termites to build colonies. The oil is effective since it easily dissolves the termites’ exoskeletons.
- Build a perimeter barrier: you can protect your whole property by building a perimeter barrier. You can do this by digging a small trench around your home. Thereafter, it should be installed with the right material in order to deter subterranean termites.
- Trim shrubs near your home: frequently trim the shrubs near your home. It’s important to allow at least a 12-inch distance between the exterior wall of your house and the shrubs. This helps to eliminate the risk of damp areas and facilitate a better flow of fresh air.
But what should you do if your property is already infested? Some of the methods that you can use to get rid of these insects include:
- Liquid termite barrier: it’s normally an effective preventative method but it can also be used to kill termites that are present in your house. You can use it in areas such as home foundation and on certain wooden structures. The liquid termite barrier is undetectable and has a multiplier type of fat. However, it’s slow-acting which can be a downside.
- Poisoned baits: they can be installed in the ground, especially around the perimeter of your house. When the termites try to eat the bait, the detection system will pop up. The best thing about using a poisoned bait is that the termites will always take it back to the colony hence the poison will end up spreading more.
- Direct chemical treatment: it takes care of everything, especially if you are dealing with a widespread infestation. It’s effective for killing both dry wood and subterranean termites. Direct chemical treatment is cost-effective and one application can last for around 4 weeks. However, you have to be careful to avoid coming into contact with such chemicals.
Even though professional treatment is expensive, it’s sometimes the best approach when dealing with a termite infestation. The professionals are able to identify the type of infestation and recommend the right type of treatment.
Are you even willing to start digging a trench around your home or handle the toxic chemicals?
You can do this by yourself but how skilled are you? Generally, it’s important to find an affordable professional pest control company with experts who can effectively detect the severity of the infestation.
This will be much better since they have the right equipment and know the best treatment options.
If you want to learn more about termites, then checkout our termite category, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:
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All the best
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