It is that time of year again and in January and February a certain winged insect makes its appearance here in South Florida. Here at Hometown Pest Control we start getting the calls, “I woke up this morning and there are flying insects all over my window in the living room,” and “I was up late last night and all of a sudden hundreds of bugs covered my television screen.” What are they? Most likely, Native Subterranean Termites or some cases, Drywood Termites.
As you may already know, Florida is heavily infested with Termites. In the United States, the further south you go, the heavier the Termite pressure. Termites are very sensitive to cold and they prefer warm climates. The soft, sandy soil, the warm, humid air and the intermittent rain enjoyed in South Florida are a perfect combination to keep a Termite happy.
Termites are beneficial to the environment when they are out in the Everglades. They live below the ground and in decaying plant matter. It is their job to eat dead trees and shrubs and other plant material. But what happens when we clear the land and build structures on top of it? What do the Termites eat? Unfortunately, they eat our homes and our businesses.
So what makes them fly into our homes and businesses? The answer is that they are not flying in; they are already there. In most cases, when you see hundreds or thousands of Termite swarmers indoors, there is already an infestation inside the structure itself. Either there are Termites living in the walls, in the attic or crawlspace or there are Termites in the soil outside that are coming up into the structure to eat.
If you only see one or two Termites inside, especially near the door or a window located next to an outside light fixture, the swarmer may have come in from the outside and chances are you do not have an infestation.
Flying Termites are called “alates.” They are the reproductive caste in the Termite family or “colony.” The alates fly out of galleries made by the other members of the colony. This is called “swarming.” On a certain day, at a certain time of the day when the atmospheric pressure is just right, Termites from the same species will swarm all across the State of Florida. They swarm to find a mate. Once they find one from another colony, they will excavate a gallery either in the ground or in a piece of wood and start a new colony.
It is important to note that Termites are weak fliers and tend to flutter about on the wind more than they actively fly. It is likely that they will not stray too far from the original colony in their dispersal flights. Therefore, if one structure in your area has Termites it is very likely that other structures in that area will also have Termites.
Different species of Termites swarm at different times of day and different times of the year. Below is a chart showing the swarming seasons in this area:
The chart is a summary of information taken from the website of the University of Florida https://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/Termites). For more specific information please see the website.
Native Subterranean Termites and Eastern Subterranean Termite colonies live down in the soil. As you can see from the chart, they swarm at the beginning of the year and on into the spring. Mud tubes, blistered sheetrock or damaged wood may also be found in the area of the swarming. Subs are often found near water sources like leaky faucets, roof leaks, or near air conditioning drip lines.
Formosan Subterranean Termite colonies can live either in the soil or in the structure itself in what are called “carton nests.” This species begins their massive dispersal flights at dusk and swarm into the night primarily during the months of April through July. Other signs that you may have Formosan Termites are mud tubes, including little particles of dirt sticking out of the wall or ceiling, usually near a water source. If you wipe the dirt away and it comes back, you have an active Subterranean Termite problem. You may also see damaged wood or blistered sheetrock.
Drywood Termites swarm primarily in the evenings all year long, but the peak swarming time is March through May. Other signs that you have Drywood Termites are little piles of “pellets.” Above the pellets you will find a little “exit hole” about the size of a small nail hole. You may also find damaged wood.
Dampwood Termites are common in structures located right next to or on a body of water. They require water to survive. They begin swarming at dusk and may swarm any time during the year. Their peak swarming time is June through October.
Finally, if you do happen to notice flying insects inside your home or business at night, do not automatically assume that it is Termites. Certain species of ants swarm at night too.
If you need help identifying flying insects, call Hometown Pest Control. We are a family owned and operated business located in Delray Beach, Florida. We serve both Broward and Palm Beach Counties. We offer free, no obligation, Pest Inspections. Call us today!
by Rafael Rico, Hometown Pest Control