Formosan Termites Swarming Facts
Formosan termites, sometimes called the “Super Termite” are coming close to their time to begin swarming season. These are the termites with wings also called “alates”.The Eastern and Western subterranean termites swarm during the daylight hours but the Formosan termites prefer to swarm after sundown to midnight hours. In the Greater New Orleans area you will see large numbers around city lights showing their enormous numbers.
Swarming termites do not eat wood. They have one only purpose in the termite colony. That is to start new colonies. Most professionals agree that it usually takes a new colony, depending on conditions, 2-7 years to reach large enough numbers to start producing termite swarmers. Mature colonies can have as many as 1-10 million termites and can tunnel out as far as an acre to food supplies. Because of the size of the colonies this Super Termite can cause a large amount of damage to a home on average in 3-6 months, eating as much as 13 ounces of material per day in your home.
Formosan termites will usually have a nest in the ground however besides reproducing faster than most other termites they can also make a nest in your home not requiring contact with the ground. This is done by creating a moisture carton nest. These types of colonies have been found in trees, utility poles, logs, and the walls of your home. These are aerial formations so when you see signs of termite damage it is important to clarify what kind of termite it is so you can determine if there is a possibility of an aerial nest in your home. Native subterranean swarmers are usually black in color and Formosan swarmers are usually a pale yellowish-brown color. Identifying the rest of the termites by looking at the workers is nearly impossible for an amateur. However if you see any termite soldiers then you may be able to discriminate between the Native termites and Formosan termites. The termite soldiers will have mandibles (pinchers) and the workers will not. The main difference is the shape of their head. A Formosan soldier’s head will be small and round shape like the workers. The Native termites have an elongated shape head unlike the rounded shaped head of the workers. Both the Native and Formosan termite soldiers’ heads will also be yellowish-brown in color as opposed to the workers heads being white like their bodies.
Let’s say you see termites swarming in your home. If they are coming out of your walls then there could possibly be a carton nest in your home. If they are entering from outside your home then this usually indicates they are coming from somewhere outside near your home. After finding a breeding site and pairing up, they will start a king and queen and then the beginning of a termite colony inside in your walls or outside in the ground has begun. In your home a few years later you could start seeing signs of termite damage like pin holes in your wall, by this time a lot of damage may have already been done.
Prevention is extremely important. Turn all the lights off in and around your home since the swarmers are highly attracted to light. Have your home inspected for any signs where excessive moisture may occur. For example, around any plumbing lines, roof gutters, faulty roof flashing, drip guards, broken roof tiles, corners of your home, window and doors frames, fireplaces, anything placed against the house, etc. Termites require water so without a water source they usually will not be able to survive more than a few days.
Because Formosan termites copy so quickly and can recolonize (meaning that there could also be more than one nest carton in your home) almost anywhere, it is vital to prevent an infestation before it occurs. If you’re live in an area where you know you get termites swarming around your home at night you should have your home inspected and treated for prevention. This would be a lot cheaper in most situations than paying for damage caused by the termites which has been reported as high as 2 billion dollars in the U.S. in one year.