Understanding the Termite “Swarm Season”

Each year when the temperature outside reaches about 70 degrees, subterranean termites throughout North Carolina will fly out of cracks and crevices in an attempt to reproduce and spread their colonies. This can be shocking and even frightening for homeowners who were unaware that termites were present on their property. So what are termite swarms, and when should you call a professional?

Termite swarms, explained:

Swarming is a normal part of the termite life cycle and typically occurs between mid-February to early summer. The “worker” members of a colony will chew a hole through wood or sheetrock to make way for the reproductive flying members to escape. By sprouting wings and taking flight in large groups, these termites are attempting to find new spots nearby to start more colonies. It’s worth noting that these winged members cannot cause damage to wood; their only purpose is to reproduce. They instinctively fly towards a light source, and if they emerge inside your home, tend to congregate around windows and sliding glass doors. If this has happened to you, it may mean you already have an active infestation. 

PRO TIP: Though they are natural enemies, termites and ants can swarm during the same time of year. Since they are small and appear similar, try to contain a few in a plastic bag or take a close-up photo for the inspector. 

We had a swarm but it stopped. Are they all gone?

Many homeowners are relieved when the swarm stops after 30-40 minutes, thinking that the pests have cleared out. Unfortunately, a termite swarm indicates the existence of a mature colony. When a colony reaches a large enough size and the weather conditions are favorable, it will need to split and spread out. While hundreds of termites have flown elsewhere around the property to search for a new base, it’s possible that there are millions left in the original location. 

What should I do in the event of a swarm?

As a home or business owner, here is what to do in the moment:

  • Attempt to collect a few in a plastic bag for an inspector. 
  • Try and contain them by shutting all doors to the room. If they can’t gain access to the soil they need to pair up and become king and queen of a new colony, the winged ones will simply die off. However, the remaining colony will need to be addressed. 
  • Do NOT seal the exit place with caulk or other material. The termites will still be there, and are likely to create new holes to escape from. 

How far does a new swarm travel?

Not far! In most cases, they won’t go farther than a few hundred yards from the original nest. Within 1-2 years of a swarm, the queen will begin to lay approximately 10,000 eggs each day. Colonies will grow quickly!

How will a pest control company help?

Firstly, a pest company will provide you with a free home inspection to confirm that they are indeed termites. If possible, the inspector will enter the crawlspace and thoroughly investigate the home to spot all termite entry points. In addition to mapping out where an infestation is found within the structure and your treatment options, they will also list any conducive conditions to termites around your home such as high moisture areas or wood piles up against the foundation. Treatment options range from spot-treatments to a full Termidor treatment and prevention plan with $1M damage guarantee.

Neuse’s industry-leading termite protection program is outlined here. For even more information or a free home inspection, call (919) 553-9888!

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