As our evening temperatures begin to warm, you may begin to see swarms of Formosan subterranean termites begin to swarm. These termites come out of their colonies at dusk, often near lights, searching for wood and moisture to form new colonies. Each year these termites swarm from May to June, with their most activity typically seen around Mother’s Day. This year we are just starting to see our first signs of swarms begin.
These termites are not new to Louisiana as they are an invasive species that came to the continental United States from Asia shortly after World War II via wood on cargo ships. Louisiana was one of the first places in the U.S. where these termites established colonies. This is due the heat and humidity that we have here in Louisiana.
Formosan subterranean termite colonies grow slowly at first but will eventually become huge and can survive for decades. This is due to the queen becoming very large and laying thousands or tens of thousands of eggs per day. Formosan termites are the most destructive termites in the world due to their large colonies and very aggressive soldiers that are tolerant to high temperatures and feed on a diverse range of wood types. It is estimated that these pests cause $1 billion in damage in the United States annually, with half of that - $500 million – in Louisiana, especially in the southeastern portion of the state towards the New Orleans area.
If you see these termites swarming around your home, it indicates that there may be a nearby colony. We recommend being proactive and search your property for any sources of food or water where a colony may exist such as wood stored on the ground or mulch contacting the foundation of your home, decaying portions of a tree, or any outdoor faucets that may be leaking. In some cases, the infestation may be on your neighbor’s property. So, work with your neighbor and try to locate the source of your infestation. If you cannot locate the source or have a concern, we recommend contacting a local pest control professional.
To reduce the swarmers from being attracted to your home, remove all food and water sources. In the evenings, termites are attracted to a light source. We recommend during peak swarming months to turn off all outdoor lighting, and close blinds or curtains to reduce them swarming around your home. If you do see a few termites in your home during this time, but do not see mud tunnels, there is not much to worry about. Just because you see these swarmers in your home, it does not mean that you immediately have a termite problem. These swarmers will fly in the home and once they land on a surface their wings pop off leaving behind a trail of wings in the home. In most cases if you have them in the home, you can just vacuum them up and dispose of them outside.
If you do see tunnels or a large number of swarmers in the evenings, we recommend contacting a pest control professional to treat your home. As the summer time heat approaches you will begin to see less of these termites swarming around your home. For more information about this or other topics please contact Mark Carriere, County Agent, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Pointe Coupee Extension Office at (225) 638-5533. More information on this and other topics can be found on the web at www.lsuagcenter.com.
Photo 1. Formosan subterranean termite workers and soldiers are rarely seen. Swarmers will be flying from late April to June.
Photo 2. Termite swarms around light posts and outdoor lightning typically peaks around Mother’s Day.