Termite Swarm Season is February — April
A “swarm,” by definition, is a dense cluster of insects, especially those with the ability to fly. A termite swarm, then, involves large numbers of flying termites in a group.
When you see a termite swarm, this indicates that a nest—most likely inside of someone’s home or business—has grown to be too large and the termite colony needs more room to grow. This, it goes without saying, isn’t encouraging when the swarmers are flying by your own property, since it would only be the colony’s overage that was swarming. The rest of the original colony is still nestled comfortably indoors, perhaps in your home.
If you see termite swarms near your home or have swarmers in-house—or have other reasons to suspect an infestation—you can contact us online for a free inspection.
Specialized Jobs in a Colony
Although every termite colony needs to swarm when the time is right to grow and thrive, not all termites are swarmers.
In a termite colony, different critters have different jobs. They include a king and queen, who mate for life and continue to reproduce, with a mature queen able to lay thousands of eggs each year. Worker termites, meanwhile, look for wood to forage on, protect the eggs, and maintain the nest. There are also soldier termites that protect the nest from ants, and these specialized ones can have jaws so large that they can’t even feed themselves.
Then, there is also a percentage of termites that are specifically created to swarm. These are called “alates,” and each colony can produce hundreds, even thousands, of them to play the key role of swarming to facilitate the colony’s growth. Alates can be male or female, and the amount of them that each colony has will depend upon the size of the colony and the species of the termite.
Termite Swarm Season
As already mentioned, once a colony has reached its maximum capacity, its termites need to find an additional location in which to expand. The alates, usually once a year, therefore launch into the air from their spot near the surface of their nests to seek a new location. The newly launched alates then pair up—one male and one female—shedding their wings and mating as they settle into a new nest to reproduce. A select few of them will end up serving as the new colonies’ kings and queens.
As a side note, it can be easy to believe that a termite swarm is in fact a swarm of flying ants. That’s because they can look quite similar. Flying ants, though, don’t shed their wings. So, if you notice those shed body parts, it’s highly likely that a termite swarm has been in the vicinity.
As far as the timing of these events, swarms of flying termites in a particular geographical area usually launch off at about the same time of year. For example, alates in colonies across a city or county in Florida would begin to swarm at approximately the same time of year as one another. In general, these launches last for a few days. The first launch of the year for a colony is usually the biggest, followed up by some smaller ones.
In Florida, formosan termites’ swarm season is typically from February through April, with this species preferring daylight hours for the activity. Drywood termites, as another example, favor summer—or early fall—for their swarming.
Most termites, cross-species, have one particular kind of weather they find most attractive to kick off their termite swarm season. It’s after a rainy, overcast day with low winds. They like the damp soil conditions this creates, which makes their nest building easier. Plus, they usually launch on humid days because their survival rates are higher on them.
Although the goal is to build a nest in another location, alates can sometimes swarm from one place indoors to another, expanding their presence within one single home. So, even if you don’t see clusters of these pests outdoors, this doesn’t mean that your home isn’t being affected by the swarming termite season.
These flying termites, in and of themselves, won’t damage your home. Alates don’t have the ability to bite or chew. Instead, they create new colonies that will be filled with termites that can and often do wreak havoc in Florida homes.
Don’t Panic. Be Proactive.
Whether it’s the termite swarming season or not, if you have a reason to believe that you may have an infestation, it makes sense to have your home inspected by professionals. At Turner Pest Control, we create customized termite extermination plans that include a comprehensive perimeter treatment. This treatment focuses on areas beneath patios, behind bricks, inside blocks, within adjoining slabs, in bath traps and pipe penetrations, and more. We also offer treatments that are specific to swarming termites.
We don’t do spot treatments like some companies do. The trained technicians at Turner Pest Control focus on getting protection into every place that termites can get into and cause damage, including foundation cracks, and we also provide soil protection treatments.
Here’s a question we often get asked: What if swarming termites are spotted after a treatment has been applied? Does that mean that the treatment didn’t work? No—and here’s more information on that topic.
After a Termite Treatment
If you find termites swarming indoors after the termiticide barrier is applied, you don’t have to worry that the treatment was unsuccessful. And, if swarming termites emerge from areas around your home, don’t panic. These flying termites will drop and die in a short period of time. When they do, you can vacuum them up or you can save some in a bag for our company to inspect. They don’t eat wood, bite, or sting. They aren’t capable of constructing the mud tubes that connect a colony or causing structural damage to wood. Instead, they are simply a nuisance.
Interestingly enough, seeing swarmers may be a sign of how well the treatment is working. That’s because they may be leaving the colony due to adverse conditions, such as lack of water, and termite mortality resulting from an effective termiticide treatment.
Swarmers may use an existing mud tube that the workers abandoned after the treatment to leave the colony, and they can also move through treated soil. Because they can move through soil very quickly, they absorb less of the termiticide than worker termites that move more slowly. Because they absorb less of the termiticide, they can sometimes be able to exit treated soil to swarm. They’ll die soon after they leave, though, either naturally or because of the termiticide they contacted as they moved through the soil.
In short, if you notice these swarming winged termites after your home has received a thorough termiticide application, this is typically a normal occurrence. Because of the biology of these insects, they can continue to swarm in the same location for three to four weeks after a chemical application has been applied.
Here’s one exception to the rule: if a structural problem in the home exists that permits termites to avoid contacting the termiticide treated soil. For example, subterranean termite colonies can survive above ground with no soil contact if a sufficient water source is available within the structure. Leaking roofs, bathtubs, showers, dishwashers, and plumbing can be sources of water for termites, so it’s important to address those leaks as part of a comprehensive termite treatment plan.
For even more in-depth information about these pests, please consult our Termite Guide and our termite control services page.
Contact Turner Pest Control
Termite colonies can cause damage in the thousands of dollars for a homeowner so, if you suspect their presence, it’s important to be proactive.
If you see a termite swarm outside your house or find swarmers in-house, know that we specialize in solving this problem. We go above and beyond minimum treatments to rid your home of these destructive pests, giving you the choice among these three treatment levels:
- Premise, which is economic and effective
- Termidor for longer and wider protection
- Altriset, which is an environmentally friendly solution
Our annual termite inspection is designed to give you peace of mind. Here is what just one satisfied customer who awarded us five out of five stars had to say:
“Turner just finished my annual termite inspection. While the previous inspections have been good, Randy’s inspection was by far the most comprehensive inspection of my house, interior and exterior, that I have ever had. Really felt that, with his scrutiny and diligence, if I had any sort of bug or moisture issue, Randy would have found it. Thanks for sending such top tier professionals to my home, for both lawn (Chris) and termites (Randy). Please extend my thanks to Randy for his professional inspection of my property.”