Why do termites come out at night?

By Dietmar Rabich, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=85344888

If you are keen or observant, you might have seen termites swarming around specific times of the years and mostly in the evenings. Well, this normally applies to specific types of termites.

So, why do termites come out at hight? To find out why some of these insects embark on their endless journeys at night, below is a detailed overview.

But if you want the short answer:

Why do termites come out at night? It’s largely related to the time of the year. When approaching spring or summer termites are more likely to come out at night in large numbers. Often referred to as swarms.

However there’s way more to this story than a simple answer paragraph, keep reading. There’s some things I found out during the research for this article that will surprise you…

Do Swarming Termites Come Out At Night And If So Why?

For starters, termites often swarm around more as the weather gets warm. That’s why you will see them after it has rained and more commonly in summer and spring. However, swarming termites prefer to move around in the evenings because of the high level of humidity.

The termite swarming season

The swarming season normally starts in spring because it’s the beginning of the warm season. They swarm because they have to search for new colonies. Note that a colony can only establish a swarm after three years or more.

What should you do if you see swarming termites?

Well, if you see them close or outside your home, it definitely means that the surroundings are infested. But what you need to know is that most of the termites will die and only a few of them will survive to establish a new colony.

Make sure that you inform the relevant authorities first and refrain from handling them. This is because they are chances that the termites might be trying to establish more than one colony.

Are Some Species Of Termites More Nocturnal Than Others?

Yes. The subterranean species for instance is only active during the day. It normally tends to fly after rainfall and when there is light. On the other hand, the Formosan invasive termites swarm at night.

Lastly, Dry wood termites are also very active at night and they are normally attracted to light in such settings.

Do The Seasons Make Termites More Nocturnal?

Some seasons make termites more nocturnal. You will find that the invasive Formosan termites and their dry wood counterparts are more active in late spring and in summer than any other season.

Generally, when the ambient environmental temperatures start to increase, you will see swarms of termites. Spring and summer as well as periods that have high humidity usually result in a wide range of winged termites around.

What happens is that the rising temperatures quickly trigger the termites and they start to emerge from their nests.

About winged termites

Most homeowners become aware of termite infestations due to the presence of flying termites. The characteristics of a flying termite include:


this depends on the “rank” of the termite in the colony. Termites with darker colors can effectively retain more moisture and that’s why they easily leave their nests. The worker termite usually has a black or dark brown color, depending on its species.


It’s mainly influenced by the species. However, these insects usually measure ¼ to 3/8-inch. They have 2 sets of wings.

How Do Termites Behave At Night?

You might be probably wondering how termites behave at night, right? With darkness, their workload will probably slow down. Well, this is not the case when it comes to these insects. They are the most hardworking insects in the world and darkness can’t even slow them down.

Termites behave at night the way they would at any time of the day. This is because they have poor vision generally. So, they tend to rely on senses more than eyesight. It’s worth noting that these insects rarely use their eyesight to an extent that some of them aren’t born with eyes.

Reproductive termites including the king and queen have very weak eyes. The workers, meanwhile, are totally blind. To move and work at night (or at any time) they use chemical signals i.e. pheromones, sense of touch, and environmental cues.

Termite Behavior and Communication

The key aspects that influence behavior and communication in termites include:

Interpreting Vibration

In case termites are moving around and they come across a predator then they will use vibrations to warn the swarm of the impending danger. Understand that these insects don’t have ears so they definitely won’t hear these vibrations.

However, they have internal organs that can help them to hear. These organs are normally found in their legs and they can easily detect motion. Solder termites issue alerts by bumping their colony tunnels repeatedly with their heads.

Chemical Communication

These insects don’t see but they have to work, eat, and communicate. Work termites, for instance, have to work in order to feed the colony. So, how do they climb trees, move barriers, carry food, and work in groups in harmony?

This is what happens. When the termites find a source of food, they will release some chemicals from their abdomens within the surroundings of that source. On their way back to the colony, they will go ahead and release more chemical trails that other members of the colony can sense.

So, they will be able to locate and use the same source as a group without getting lost.

Moisture-Sensing Antennas

You might have noticed that these insects normally thrive in moisture-rich areas, especially around vegetation. They need more moisture in order to survive. To find such places, they have moisture-sensing antennas that can easily detect moisture and decay.

When Do Termites Sleep?

How much would you have accomplished by now if you never went to bed and sleep every night? Additionally, how much would you have done if you didn’t take breaks to rest and recover?

Generally, rest and sleep are important for anything that has life. Even plants tend to sleep. That’s why we have many species of living things that are nocturnal. This means that they are active during the night and then they sleep during the day.

You might be probably thinking that termites fall into this group since they are highly active insects. But do termites even sleep during the day? Well, the truth is that these insects have crazy work schedules. So, they never! Ever! Sleep. Termites don’t sleep during the day and neither do they sleep at night.

Yes, they might slow down in order to rest, but they never close their eyes to sleep. They might even stop working for some time, especially when the temperatures are quite low.

It should be noted that when the external temperatures are so low, these insects might be forced into a state of diapause. However, if termites are in a warmer environment, they will still continue to work.

Important Facts about Swarming Termites and Nighttime

  • Darkness can influence the behavior of some termites: this happens due to the warm and cool environment that triggers them to come out of their nests. Besides that, the high humid environment in the evenings is also attractive to them.
  • There are seasons when swarming termites are common: well, this mainly includes spring and autumn because they are warmer.
  • Darkness doesn’t affect the eyesight of termites: this is true because only a few of these insects have weak eyesight for visibility. Otherwise, most of them are totally blind. The only way they communicate is through chemical signals and sometimes body vibrations.
  • Swarming termites don’t cause so much damage: the sole purpose of swarming termites to establish a new colony and to reproduce new members. Research studies, in fact, indicates that most members in a swarm don’t have mouthparts for chewing or biting items. It should be noted that hundreds of swarmers are normally produced in each colony but only a few of them actually make it in real life.
  • Food attracts termites: even though swarmers have one purpose which is to establish a new colony, they also need food. So, once you see termites around your home there is definitely something that’s keeping them there. They love cellulose and wood-based items.

This includes the likes of newspapers, firewood, and lumber among others. Besides that, they love establishing colonies in dark and damp spaces that are usually undisturbed. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t find them underground or beneath foundations.

You should not attempt to destroy a termite colony alone: you might think that you can effectively destroy a colony at night since it’s dark. Well, you are now aware that these insects don’t use their eyesight even during the day. Attempting to do so will be catastrophic.

In case you want to get rid of termites, call the right professionals. However, you can reduce the risk of attracting termites by:

  • Repairing worn out and leaky pipes/faucets
  • Correctly disposing or burning wood items
  • Protect the foundation of your home by installing gutters or splash blocks
  • Ensuring the crawlspaces are dry and free of dirt

The Bottom Line

Why do termites come out at night? This is a question that baffles some people. Generally, termites love humid environments. That’s why you will find them underground, inside wood items, and even in decayed spaces.

The reason why they love to come out at night is because of the humid atmosphere. The evening hours, especially between dusk and midnight, usually have a high level of humidity and it attracts them to come out.


That’s it for this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it and if you think it might be useful for someone else then please share it on social media, email or your own website! It really encourages us to write more content and grow the site!

dedicated to sherman

If you want to learn more about various insects, then checkout our site categories, we have a bunch of articles there that are totally worth reading:






That’s it for this article. I hope you enjoyed reading it and if you think it might be useful for someone else then please share it on social media, email or your own website! It really encourages us to write more content and grow the site!

All the best


Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page https://schoolofbugs.com/about-steve-foster/

Recent Posts