Termites: The Swarming Begins

Termites: The Swarming Begins

With the warmer months creeping up on us, it’s time to start preparing for the termite swarming season. Termites cause billions of dollars in damage each year and infestations are normally not found until considerable damage has already been done. It’s important to know what types of termites are active in your area to understand ways to prevent them from causing damage to your home.

The most common type of termite in the southeast is the subterranean termite. This termite species lives in underground colonies with as many as two million members but can also be found in moist, secluded areas above ground. They are the most destructive termite species and, over time, can potentially collapse a building. This is due to their hard, saw-toothed jaws that work like shears and can bite off extremely small fragments of wood, one piece at a time. They typically begin their swarming season in early spring, usually during daylight hours.

Swarming is beneficial when creating new colonies.  Termites swarm after a colony has reached a certain capacity and is ready to expand. This normally happens once per year for most colonies. Hundreds or even thousands of swarmers, also known as alates, are produced with the sole purpose of reproduction and expansion.

Swarming can occur indoors or outdoors. They cannot survive indoors because of the lack of soil to colonize. If found indoors, they are usually found near windows and light fixtures as they are attracted to light. Whether indoors or outdoors, they usually can’t cause damage. As swarmers, they can’t bite, sting, or chew. The presence of swarms indicates that a colony is nearby, though; so although the swarmers can’t cause damage, the nearby colony can.

There are many ways to prevent swarming from happening. The first step is to eliminate any termite colonies in the area. To prevent termites, make sure there are no water sources nearby, including standing water around your home. Also, routinely inspect your foundation for loose mortar or bubbling paint to see if there are termites present.

Because a termite swarm indicates a nearby colony, homeowners should take precaution when one is spotted close to home. If you suspect you have a termite infestation, contact a professional local pest control company who can inspect your property and set up a termite control plan.

Do I Need to Treat for Termites in Winter?

Do I Need to Treat for Termites in Winter?

It’s a known fact that termites can cause costly and significant damage to your home, but did you know they are active year-round? Winter does bring some daily changes to termite colonies, including moving deeper into the ground for warmth or seeking shelter in your home’s foundation. Both cases are something to be wary of, especially when it comes to the health of your home.

Subterranean termites might seem like they can’t cause damage in the winter when they burrow deep underground, but don’t let that fool you. When termites burrow underground, they tunnel deep beneath your home’s foundation and can cause structural damage, such as causing your home to shift and become uneven, which is costly to repair.

The plus side to termites in the wintertime is that swarms are nearly impossible. Termite swarms may sound like a scene out of a science fiction movie, but they are necessary for the survival of termites. Fortunately, they are not common in the winter, as they tend to move further away from their colonies in the warmer months, making it more difficult to find them. Consider putting preventative measures in place around your home during the winter season before these pests become active again in the spring months, which mark the beginning of swarming season.

There are several ways to prevent termites, even in the wintertime. There are many great services offered to homeowners that can be beneficial year-round. The most effective option in termite prevention is the Sentricon Always Active® system. It is an environmentally responsible choice for home termite protection and is scientifically designed to eliminate the entire colony – including the queen. It’s crucial to prevent termites, whether they’re active or not.

Termites can be extremely difficult to identify, avoid, and eliminate once they are established. If you spot signs of termites in your home or just want to get ahead in the prevention game, contact a professional pest control company who can set you up with annual termite inspections and even a termite control plan.

What Do Swarming Termites Mean?

What Do Swarming Termites Mean?

Spring and early summer mark the start of termite swarming season. Swarming termites, also known as alates, are classified as nuisance pests because although they can be bothersome to have around, they cannot bite, sting, or even chew wood. They do, however, signify the presence of an established termite colony nearby which can be problematic for you and your home.

Termites are silent destroyers, often causing significant damage and destruction to your home for long periods of time while going undetected. Learning the signs of termites, including the presence of swarms, is a critical first step in termite prevention.

When dealing with termite swarms, several questions are posed: When is swarming season? Where should I look for swarms? Can these swarms cause damage? Why are they swarming? How can I prevent them?

When Is Swarming Season?

This question depends on what type of termite you are dealing with. Subterranean termites begin their swarming season in the spring, usually during daylight hours. Drywood termites, on the other hand, don’t swarm until late summer and early fall. Dampwood termites tend to swarm during the summer months. The weather also plays a factor into when termites will swarm. Each species has its own set of conditions that are ideal for swarming but most of them will start the day after a rainstorm when the weather is still overcast and there is little to no wind.

Where Should I Look For Swarms?

While termite swarms can be found both indoors and outdoors, they cannot survive indoors because of the lack of soil in which to colonize. Swarming termites can be found anywhere termites colonize. If they do make their way indoors, they can often be found near windows and light fixtures as they are attracted to the light.

Can These Swarms Cause Damage?

Termite swarms themselves usually do not cause damage. Swarming termites cannot bite, sting, or chew. As termites get ready to swarm, they make a tube which they use to launch. When conditions are ideal, they use the tube to launch themselves. After a brief flight of only a few seconds, the termites land and break their wings away from their bodies and pair with a mate. Those pairs that survive then create a chamber underground that they use to breed and the new colony is formed. Swarm launches are usually spread out over a few days with a large release on the first day and smaller launches on subsequent days. Termite swarms can indicate the presence of an existing colony nearby so while the swarmers themselves may not cause damage, the nearby colony can.

Why Are They Swarming?

The primary purpose of termite swarms is reproduction and expansion of the colony. When the original termite colony reaches capacity and needs to expand then the swarming process begins, usually occurring once per year. The number of termites in each swarm varies depending on which type of termite species is swarming and the size of the colony.

How Can I Prevent Them?

In order to prevent termite swarms, one must prevent termite colonies from establishing nearby. Prevent termites by:

  1. Getting rid of water sources by eliminating or reducing standing water around your home.
  2. Repairing any leaky faucets, pipes, and air conditioners.
  3. Diverting water away from your house with properly functioning spouts, splash blocks, and gutters that are clear of debris.
  4. Repairing and replacing damaged roof shingles, fascia and soffits on your house.
  5. Replacing weatherstripping on doors and windows.
  6. Routinely inspecting foundations for loose mortar, uneven or bubbling paint, wood that sounds hollow when you tap it, and for the presence of mud tubes which termites use to reach food.
  7. Regularly inspecting wood in and around your home for noticeable changes, making sure to check windows, doors, and skirting.
  8. Making sure there is at least an 18″ gap between the soil and the wood portions of your home.
  9. When storing items in the attic or basement, using plastic storage containers and metal shelving instead of cardboard or wood.
  10. During swarming season, keeping doors and windows shut as much as possible. Keep outdoor lights turned off at night also, as they will attract swarming termites.
  11. Keeping firewood stored at least 20 feet away from your home and elevated off the ground.
  12. Keeping plants a few feet away from your home.
  13. Making sure there is at least a 4″ barrier between your mulch and the side of your home. You can also use mulch made of rubber, plastic, or gravel.
  14. Removing any tree stumps from your property.
  15. Scheduling an annual termite inspection of your home and property to help detect termite problems early before they can cause significant damage.

Because a termite swarm indicates a nearby colony, homeowners should take precaution when one is spotted nearby. If you suspect you have a termite infestation, contact a professional pest control company who can inspect your property and set up a termite control plan.

 

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The When, Where, and Why of Termite Swarms

The When, Where, and Why of Termite Swarms

Swarming termites are also known as alates. Swarming termites are usually a seasonal nuisance as they cannot bite, sting, or even chew wood. While they don’t usually cause damage themselves, they do, however, indicate that there is an established colony nearby. These seasoned termites are capable of causing extensive damage to your home.

When dealing with swarming termites there are three important questions to ask: When do they swarm? Where do they swarm? Why do they swarm?

When Do They Swarm?

Termite swarming season varies by species. Subterranean termites swarm during daylight hours in the spring. Drywood termites swarm in late summer to early fall. Dampwood termites swarm in the summer. Most species of termites have specific conditions they wait for in order to start swarming. They usually wait for the day after a rainstorm, overcast weather, and wind speeds less than 6 mph.

Where Do They Swarm?

Swarming termites are found anywhere termites colonize. Termites can swarm indoors or outdoors, although they cannot survive indoors as there is no soil for them to create their colonies in. Swarming termites are attracted to light and are often found near windows and light fixtures. As termites get ready to swarm, they prepare a swarm tube which they use to launch. When the conditions are right, they use the tube to swarm. After a brief flight which lasts for only a few seconds, they land and break their wings away from their bodies. They then pair with a mate. Those pairs that survive then create a chamber underground that they use to breed and the new colony is formed. Swarm launches are usually spread out over a few days with a large release on the first day and smaller launches on subsequent days.

Why Do They Swarm?

The sole purpose of termite swarms is reproduction and expansion of the colony. The original termite colony reaches capacity and needs to expand. This is usually done once per year, hence termite swarming season. Both males and females swarm at this time. The number of termites that swarms each season varies depending on the size of the colony and the species of the termite.

Because a termite swarm indicates a nearby colony, homeowners should take precaution when one is spotted nearby. A thorough inspection of your home and property should be performed looking for signs of termites. This is also a good time to set up your annual termite inspection if you haven’t already. If you suspect you have a termite infestation, contact a professional pest control company who can inspect your property and set up a termite control plan.

 

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What You Should Know About Termites This Spring

What You Should Know About Termites This Spring

Termite infestations can cause significant (and expensive) structural damage to your home and property. What makes termites even worse is they usually cause significant damage for a long period of time without being detected.

Spring is an especially critical time for identifying and dealing with termites because that is the time of year when termites swarm to establish new colonies. These swarmers are winged adult termites that mature and fly away from their colonies to continue reproducing. Termite swarming season begins at different times for different species but all of them typically begin when the weather warms up following a significant rain event. For most species like subterranean termites, this falls in early spring. Age is also a factor in determining when termite colonies will swarm. While there is no specific age for a colony to swarm, most colonies aren’t mature enough until they are at least 3 years old.

Swarming termites often gather in areas with low-wind and diffuse light. Swarms can occur over a period of several days. Termite swarms are often confused with flying ant swarms. There are 3 major differences between termites and flying ants: antenna, wings, and body segments. Termites have straight antennae with a slight drooping look while flying ants have antenna that are bent at a 90 degree angle as they come out the side of their heads. Termite wings are basically equal in length while flying ants have front wings that are noticeably longer than their hind wings. Finally, termites have 2 body segments with straight abdomen while flying ants have 3 distinct body segments that narrow at the waist.

Odds are if you notice a termite swarm in or around your property the initial nesting site is not too far away. Termite swarms are a good indication that a termite infestation is imminent. Swarming termites also discard their wings after their new colony is established. Finding piles of discarded wings is also another sign that a new active termite colony is close by.

It is important to periodically check for signs of termites in your home to try and catch an infestation before the damage is significant (and costly).

  • Check the exterior of your home and look for mud tubes and small white insects going up the outside of your foundation.
  • Tap or probe any exposed wood for hollow sounds.
  • Learn to identify termite swarms and keep an eye out for them in the spring.
  • Look for other signs of termites in your home such as buckling wood, damaged wood, etc.
  • Keep the ground around foundations dry with proper drainage techniques.
  • Seal off any points of entry by filling in cracks in concrete foundations and any holes or openings where utility lines and pipes enter the home.
  • Consider investing in an annual termite inspection where a professional termite control technician can thoroughly check your home for all of these signs and more.

If you notice a termite swarm this spring or any of these other signs of termites, it’s not too late to act but action should be taken sooner rather than later. With the help of a professional pest control company, you can take quick action for termite treatment while avoiding the costly headache of structural damage to your home. Whether you’ve dealt with termites in the past or just want to avoid dealing with them in the future, investing in termite protection now is always a good idea.

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