Fall is a great time of year along the beach in Southern California. Fall is also termite swarm time. Swarms are how termites use the wind to spread and build new colonies. The good news is they aren’t good flyers, the bad news is there can be a lot of them. As the Santa Ana Winds pick up it becomes termite swarm time in Southern California.
Swarmers are termites that have wings and leave their current colony to start a new one in a new place. They look different than the termites a professional might find while inspecting your home These termites are only capable of spreading the colony and can not cause any damage to your home; it’s their children, the worker termites that will eat and destroy the wood in your home.
What makes swarmer termites different is they have two sets of wings and the ability to lay eggs and infest your home quickly. Swarmer Termites cannot fly very well and often use the wind to carry them long distances, making the fall a great time for them to ride the wind. Twice a year, usually Spring and Fall in Southern California, Termite Swarms make their move. As the winds pick up towards the end of October and early November this year, the experts tell us it is termite swarm time.
You will notice swarmer termites are a little wobbly when they fly, this is because their two pairs of wings are both of equal length. Insects such as flying ants, dragonflys and moths also have two pairs of wings but the back pair of wings are longer than the front pair making them more aerodynamic.
Flying Ants vs Flying Termites
While speaking of these flying ants, many people confuse these insects with the swarmer termites.
Here are four simple ways that you can tell these species apart:
1. Swarmer Termites have straight antennae, ants are bent
2. Swarming termites have only two body parts
3. The middle section or abdomen is thick on a termite, thin on an ant
4. Swarmer Termite wings are equal length, and ant wings are not.
Where to Find Termite Swarms
The best prevention is to keep an eye out around your house. Now that you know what swarming termites look like, now lets talk about where to look for them. If you find swarmer termites on the outside of your home or on trees around your home you may not be in much trouble. Because these swarmer termites cannot fly very well, they are often blown by the wind onto the exterior of your house or onto neighboring trees and plants. If you find swarmer termites in these locations, generally you will have no problem.
However, if you find a swarmer termite leaving from the structure of a window, door, porch columns, or any wood structure, then you should contact a pest service. Once inside these structures, swarmers have the ability to mate and begin reproducing working termites which will begin to cause damage to your home. Finding only a couple of swarmers inside your home may only be coincidence. However, if you begin seeing many, than more than likely this indicates that a colony has formed somewhere in or near your home. The quicker you take care of the problem, the less damage will be done to your home.
The Termite Swarming Season
Termites require moisture to live, without it their bodies would dry out and they would die. So mature termite colonies tend to produce and send out termite swarmers in the wet spring and fall months. During this time it is quite common to see them out in swarms, flying around, after a rain storm; since this give them the best chance of surviving and starting a new colony.
One interesting thing to note, is that these flying swarms of termites seem to be attracted to light, and they will fly around in a swarm around outside lights and light sources. It can actually be quite a sight to see a large swarm of termites buzzing around together (as long as it’s not your house they are swarming around).
If you see termites around your home, check with a professional pest service for the safest way to protect your home. Home store solutions may not be enough.