Termites are small but cause huge problems. Termite colonies can cause as much as $5 billion dollars in property damage in the USA. Insurance companies do not cover many of these costs. So, homeowners should know how to protect themselves. This includes:
- Knowing when termite swarming season is
- How to spot a termite colony
- Basic termite prevention
Ready to protect your home and property? Let’s get into it.
Termite Swarming Season: The Short Answer
Termites like warm weather. They prefer a zone between 50 and 100 degrees Fahrenheit. As we know, this is most of spring, summer, and fall here in North Carolina. During this time, an established termite colony will send out winged termites in a swarm. A termite swarm flies until a pair of termites find a new home and begins a new nest.
The Basics of Termites and Termite Control
Termites are small destructive pests that invade homes, usually from underneath. They live in dark places. These insects eat wood and other soft materials. Eating the wood out of your home is destructive!
The problem with these pests is termite activity is nearly always detected too late. Many people are only aware of termites in their home or area when they see a termite swarm. By then, it may be too late. Termites swarm after they establish a nest and grow. So, the presence of a swarm shows the problem already exists.
So, what do termites look like?
People often confuse termites with flying ants. They look similar, but they are easy to tell apart if you compare them. Here is a picture to show you the differences:
You can see a few key differences without a microscope:
- Termites do not have a waist. Their bodies are long and appear slender.
- Termites have four wings equal in shape and size. Ants have a shorter rear pair.
- Termites have antennae that do not bend. Ants have an ‘elbow’ in their antennae.
The most significant difference is termite control probably requires a professional. Getting rid of carpenter ants or other ant species can be done by eliminating their preferred conditions.
Why are There Termite Swarms?
A colony becomes fully mature after 3-5 years. Then, during swarming season, an existing colony sends out termite swarmers. Their purpose is to find mates, a suitable site for new colonies, and breed. This is how new termite infestations start.
Termite swarmers are short-lived. They are called alates and their sole purpose is to find a mate, a new home, and start a new nest. With such sharp focus, their lifespan is brief. A swarm may only last a few hours. Many homeowners return home to find a dead indoor swarm. The insects left the nest, flew towards the light (a window), and died on the windowsill.
Swarming termites move the most in early spring in warmer climates. But the colony is active year-round. If you notice signs of a swarm, especially a dead indoor swarm, it is a strong indicator of a termite problem. You should call a pest control company as soon as possible. They can inspect your home for termites.
If you have an existing termite problem, then you should act as quickly as possible. Early diagnosis and elimination may prevent thousands of dollars of damage to your home.
Looking for Termite Swarmers
Finding termite swarms isn’t too difficult. Certain things attract termites:
- Moist soil
- Wooden structures
- Food sources
After late winter, the weather warms up and the alates go out to start a new colony. This is the time to schedule a free inspection. You can spot the insects before extensive damage is done. An inspector will do a few things:
- Check your crawl space for any signs of termite activity.
- Inspect sheds, supports, or other wooden structures close to your home.
- Use probes to check for structural damage that isn’t immediately visible.
- Look for any visible signs of infestation, especially mud tubes across exposed surfaces.
You could look for these signs yourself. Awareness of them may help you spot a problem. But subterranean termites are notoriously difficult to discover. A professional inspector will do a fantastic job of probing and checking for any insects.
What Kinds of Termites Live in North Carolina?
There are three main species of termites in North Carolina. They are primarily subterranean termites, which means they need a connection to the soil. Drywood termites are also present, but are not as common.
Eastern Subterranean Termites
These are the most common species in North Carolina. They live close to the soil and swarm after excess moisture. Warm weather after a spring rain shower usually kicks off a swarm. With their wings, this species measures approximately three-eighths of an inch long. Their bodies are dark brown, and their wings are a brownish gray.
Formosan Subterranean Termites
This species is very aggressive but less common. Following rains in spring and early summer, thousands of Formosan termite swarmers can emerge from a single colony. The swarmers are roughly five-sixteenths of an inch long with their wings. The wings are translucent and hairy, and their bodies range in color from a creamy, pale yellow to a brownish-yellow.
They are very aggressive. A colony of these beasts can devour a 2×4 in 25 days. Imagine what they could do to your house!
West Indian Powerpost Termites
West Indian Powerpost Termites are attracted to dry wood. In warmer weather, colonies send out swarmers. These are around a half-inch long, have brown bodies, and have pale or iridescent wings. These pests leave behind a telltale sign of an infestation: their droppings. These sand-like pellets can be pale or dark brown.
What Seeing a Termite Infestation Means For Your Home
Seeing a swarm means you should take steps to identify any potential problem. There are at least two possibilities:
- Seeing a swarm outside your home should put you on alert. Look for signs any termites may have entered your home. Schedule an inspection to prevent termites from finding a way into your house.
- Spotting a swarm inside your house means you should immediately call a pest control service. There is almost certainly an established nest in your home. You will need a termite treatment to identify and halt any damage.
If you’ve spotted either one of these, then call the experts at Stomp Pest Control. Our termite treatments could prevent more damage to your home. We offer free termite inspections and comprehensive termite extermination to help you keep your home free of these destructive pests. To learn more, reach out to us today at 919-231-3292 or fill out the form below to get started.