- A swarm is an indicator that a termite colony is present and a termite inspection should be scheduled
- Termite swarmers are often confused with flying ants. It is important to have a sample positively identified by a qualified professional.
Termite swarms are a natural part of the reproductive cycle of a termite colony. Termite swarmers are often viewed as a nuisance, but more importantly they are an indicator that a colony is present in or beneath a structure. When a colony reaches maturity, they seek to advance the species by developing winged male and female reproductive “swarmers” called alates.
Termite swarms typically occur between the months of February and May,
but in some instances occur at other times of the year. The swarm event is usually triggered by exterior weather conditions. In the early spring when the weather warms up and there is a period of rain, you may encounter one or more of these events. If you do have a swarm it is very important to have a qualified professional properly identify
that it is actually termites.
Once the male and female reproductive swarmers emerge they fly towards a light source. You may see a pile of lacy translucent wings and dead insects in the general vicinity of the swarm or in nearby window sills. After a short flight, they land, break off their wings, pair off, and seek a suitable environment in which to begin a new colony. Only a very small percentage of swarming termites survive to initiate new colonies. Most all of the termites that swarm inside a structure will die within hours of the swarm event.
Termite swarmers cannot cause damage to a structure, as their primary goal is reproduction. The damage done by termites is caused by wingless worker termites that do not like to be exposed to light or the elements. They are usually found consuming the wood framing within your walls. Termite swarms are isolated events that only happen a few days out of the year. When the termite colony has released all of the swarmers it has produced the swarming activity will stop, however it is important to understand that the termite workers who are present behind the scenes will remain active all year round.
When to Place a Service Call
Because of the biology and behavior of termite swarms, they are difficult to spot. Swarming activity will naturally cease when the colony has released all of the swarmers it has produced. As stated above, we recommend a termite specialist provide an estimate for a full termite treatment when you encounter a swarm.
Swarming Termites vs. Flying Ants
Both ants and termites exhibit the same reproductive behavior of developing winged reproductives to aid in distributing colonies over vast areas. It is very common to confuse termite swarms with swarms of flying ants; however there are a number of visible differences between them. It is important that you have one of Cooper’s termite professionals identify the insect properly so the appropriate treatment is proposed.
- Two sets of equal length wings.
- Wings are about twice the length of the body and are broken off when the termites land.
- Broad waist
- Straight antennae that look like they are comprised of tiny beads
- Two sets of wings that are unequal in length.
- Wings are only slightly longer than the body and remain attached to the ant
- Slender waist that is visibly “pinched” like an hourglass.
- Antennae are elbowed