Features of swarming season or when do termites swarm?
When it comes to swarms, you should keep in mind that the word “swarm” has different meaning depending on the kind of insect.
For example, killer bees’ swarm is a massive all-hive attack, whereas a honey bees’ swarm is just a collective search for a new nest site.
As for termites, their swarm is “colonization” of new “lands” by termite alates. Those small winged termites emerge from their old colony through cracks in buildings or holes in the ground and then fly out to find a new one.
After landing, the alates shed their wings, dig into the wood (or the ground, if they are subterranean termites) and start mating. A new colony is established.
- What causes swarms?
- Swarming seasons
- Geography of swarming
- Useful articles
- Helpful video
What causes swarms?First of all, termites can swarm only when the colony is numerous enough. It takes about four years to reach the necessary population.
Once a population milestone is reached, termites start swarming as soon as the weather becomes warm and rainy.
However, maturity of the colony is not the only thing that can trigger swarming.
Also it may happen because of food or water deficiency, pesticides in close vicinity, thunderstorms and rapid changes in atmospheric pressure.
The number of alates spawned will be proportionate to the age and size of the colony, whereas the number of swarms emerging from the colony depends on the environmental conditions.
This very period in which the termites send alates (swarmers) to start a new colonies is called a “swarming season”.
When do termites swarm? The termite swarming seasons for different species are different, though for each of them it lasts a few months.
Thus, usually subterranean termites swarm in spring. Thousand alates fly out of their colonies, usually in daytime after a rainfall. However, there’re many subspecies of subterranean termites who behave differently:
- Eastern Subterranean Termites swarm from February to May.
- Arid-land Subterranean Termites’ alate fly away to start new colonies in spring or fall.
- Desert Subterranean Termites swarm in a period from July to September.
- Western Subterranean Termites can swarm any time of the year and, like all others, they tend to do it when it’s warm and wet.
- Dark Southeastern Subterranean Termites’ swarming occurs in summer.
- Light Southeastern Subterranean Termites tend to swarm in the fall.
- Formosan Termites swarm during the late spring. Unlike others, in nighttime.An hour of drywood termite swarm strikes in late summer or fall, in nighttime. At once a colony sends up to 100 flying termites which fly toward a well-lit area.
And of course there’re special features each subspecies has:
- Tropical Rough-headed Drywood Termites normally swarm from April through July.
- Tropical Smooth-headed Drywood Termites can swarm any time of the year, but the peak is from March to May.
- Southeastern Drywood termites’ swarming season lasts from spring to early fall.
- Western Drywood termites swarm any time of the year. Unlike others, in daytime.
When does termite swarming season end? As you can see there is no definite answer in this question, everything depends on the specific type of pests.
Dampwood termites tend to do the colonization in summer.
Even though they usually don’t damage homes too often, the risks still are, so you should probably know when every subspecies start swarming:
- Desert Dampwood Termites start swarming from May and finish it in October.
- Florida Dampwood Termites do the colonization from late spring through early winter.
- Those Nevada Dampwood Termites which live at higher elevations swarm in spring, while those who inhabit coastal areas tend to swarm in early fall or summer.
- Pacific Dampwood Termites swarm during the early fall or late summer in evenings. Only about 60 individuals are sent at once.
Normally colonies swarm only once per season, though if one does swarm a few times again, the following swarms are bound to be less intense than the first one.
Geography of swarming
The rule is simple: the more humid and warm the climate is, the more active termites are.
For example, if you live in Florida, you can expect your cozy little colony on the backyard to start multiplying as early as in February or even December, in spite of everything that has been written above.In fact, they can start swarming as soon as the temperature rises to 70 degrees Fahrenheit, which is hard to imagine in northern states.
As for northern states, you can expect your termites to multiply in winter only if their colony is within a heated building.
Besides it’s obvious that only those termites that can live in these areas can swarm in there. So in cold places where drywood termites cannot survive, e.g. Montana or North Dakota, you can’t expect termite swarming in daytime.
But in Florida where you can find practically all kinds of termites, because it’s very hot and wet in there, swarming can start at any moment.
In fact, the further you go from North-West to South-East of the United States, the more species and subspecies you can see and the more protensive and intense their swarms are.
However, of course, in such arid regions like Texas you won’t see Dampwood termites, while Drywood ones can hardly be found among Missouri wetlands.
If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:
- All types of termites. Are they harmful to humans? Can they bite you? And what is the difference between drywood and subterranean ones?
- What does swarmers of different species look like: drywood, subterranean, formosan?
- Signs of infestation outside and in the house: in walls or furniture.
- What does termite holes look like? What is droppings and is it toxic to humans? Do termites make noises?
- Posible termite damage, how does it look like? Examples of damage in walls and wood floors.
- All about flying termites: how do they look like and what to do if there are swarmers in your house?
- How do they do nests and mounds? How to find it in your garden or inside the house?
- Termite life cycle – from egg to larvae. And social hierarchy: workers, soldiers, queen.
Do you want to know when do flying termites come out and how do they look like during this period? Then watch this video, also learn some inexpensive ways to keep them from invading your home:
In relation to termites, “to swarm” means “to send out alates and start a new colony”.
Although, usually termites start swarming in spring and summer, in order to find out when precisely termites in your area do, you’ll have to find out which kinds of termites live in your proximity.
However, if you live in the North-West regions like Montana, you shouldn’t be bothered much about termites, since they are not native in these lands and, therefore termite swarm can never start there at all.
At the same time, hot and humid climate of Florida helps termites to reproduce all year round.