Inevitably during this time of year you will see some commercials from pest control companies big and small that warn you of termite swarms. But what is a termite swarm and why should you be worried about them?
Here’s a quick run down of termite swarms so that you can look out for them this spring season.
What is a Termite Swarm?
When conditions are optimal a mature colony will release a large number of winged termites simultaneously from the nest to mate. These swarming termites will emerge from holes in the soil as well as cracks in a building. These swarmers will fly to mate, locate new nest sites and food sources. Small percentages of swarmers actually are successful in mating and establishing a new colony. Most swarmers will become food for birds, bats or other insects. Those that are successful will create a ‘royal couple’ and will burrow into the ground where the queen termite begins to lay eggs. A new colony will then take 4 plus years to establish itself before it can send out its own swarmers.
In our area of East Tennessee subterranean termites are the most prevalent and most destructive termites we come across. The common species of these subterranean termites are eastern, southeastern and light southeastern. Most times an eastern subterranean termite swarm will start to fly, swarm, between March and May and will be a dark color. The southeastern subterranean termite is know to swarm between April and June, as well as the fall. The light southeastern subterranean termite swarm is active from August to October and is a pale-brown color.
Many times people will confuse a termite swarm with a carpenter ant swarm. They can be similar color and size. Certainly they both fly around in what seems erratic fashion. A closer inspection of the insects in question show them to be quite different. Termite wings (two on each side) will be of equal length. The winged carpenter ant will have wings that are not of equal length. The body shape of the swarming termite is also quite different from that of the ant. The carpenter ant has that traditional thin thorax and large abdomen (bottom end) of the body. The termite swarmer is more uniform in width from head to bottom. Neither swarming insect is particularly fun to be around and helpful to your home. You might not even see the swarm of termites flying, but you might find wings everywhere making it equally harder to identify. So, if you are not sure what swarm you are dealing with give a call to your pest control company is a good suggestion.
What to Do if a Swarm Is In My House?
If you have a swarm that is active in your house you can do a few things to help yourself out. Freaking out is not one of them.
- Feel free to let the swarmers go by opening up a door or window. They are trying to get out into freedom’s air to mate and start a new life. Now their new life might be a good distance from your home, or it could be near by. Their life most likely will be short lived if you have birds, frogs, or other animals or bugs that like to eat insects.
- You can go ahead and vacuum up the swarmers thus rendering their mating process a lost cause.
- Collect a batch of the swarmers in a glass or plastic jar so that they can be identified later by a professional. You can then call your termite exterminator company to come out and inspect and assess your home for the presence of termites.
- In all cases you’d be best advised to call a termite extermination professional for an assessment of your situation.
A swarm is an indicator that termites are around, but they could easily be outside in your yard. Those outside swarms can find their way into your house but it would take a few years to see a swarm from within your home. However a termite colony that is present in your home and trying to get out does indicate presence of termites that you will need to get professionally treated.
Watch this video of a house in Murfreesboro, TN with a swarm inside their attic space. It is obvious that they have a large termite colony living in their house walls.
If you have treated for termites with termiticide, such as Termidor or a system such as Sentricon with Recruit bait, they do not kill termites immediately. Your foot can kill immediately. Instead they break down the life cycle of a termite colony so if you have recently treated or installed a system on your home, then a swarm might be expected. That however, will probably, be the last swarm you see.
The worst thing you can do for your home and family is to ignore that a swarm happened in or around your home or business. Termites do not move fast in eating away at food sources, however, they do not stop eating. Ignoring them will only give them ample opportunity to move into your home or business and do costly damage.
For help in identifying a possible termite infestation, swarm, determining the extent of the problem, and providing treatment recommendations and/or plans then give us a call (866-448-2847) or contact us through this website.