In order to grow beyond their colony, termites must send reproductive alates away from the nest. These alates, both males and females, are attracted to light and venture toward the surface, where they proceed to swarm away from the colony.
What Is A Termite Swarm?
A termite swarm is an event that usually occurs during the warmer times of the year, mostly spring and summer. Alate termites have grown wings, and they use these wings to launch into the air and spread out into the world. This is a point when homeowners often discover they have a termite infestation. They may see alates, their carcasses or their discarded wings around entrances and areas with lots of sunlight, such as around windows and doors. However, these termites may also misjudge their launching point and appear near light fixtures, accidentally swarming indoors.
Why Do Termites Swarm?
Termite alates will only begin to swarm once the colony has reached a certain population at which expanding is necessary. They will also only swarm when the weather is conducive to their flight, such as low wind and following a rain that leaves the ground damp and ready for burrowing. Seeing a termite swarm on your property can indicate years’ worth of termite damage.
Hundreds or thousands of alates, whose sole job is spreading and reproduction, will be bred in the nest specifically for this purpose. While they wait for the conditions to be right to swarm, they will stay close to the surface of the colony. Swarms may also occur close to the same time and occur over the course of a few days if colonies are in similar areas. However, swarming will happen even if there are no other colonies in the area. When it’s time to launch, alates will rise into the air, pair off, find a place to settle if there is one available, mate, shed their wings and begin building a new colony.
When Do Termites Swarm?
The time of year that termites swarm depends on the species. Subterranean termites often swarm in the spring, while dampwood termites swarm in the summer and drywood termites swarm in the late summer to early fall. Drywood termites often only have swarms of about a hundred alates, so homeowners may not detect an infestation when it occurs. Dampwood termites don’t cause as much damage to property as drywood or subterranean termites, as the wood in a home is too dry for them. They do still swarm, however, even if less noticeably.