Drywood termites are one of the most common termite species that invade homes and properties. Unlike its subterranean termite and dampwood termite counterparts, they thrive in humid environments and like to infest dry woods where they build their colonies until it is time for them to swarm and look for a new home.
So when do drywood termites swarm and build new nests? The swarming season for drywood termites varies depending on their type. Southeastern drywood and West Indian drywood termites often take flights during spring, while Desert drywood and Western drywood termites swarm during the late summer to the beginning of fall.
One of the most important warning signs of termite infestation is the presence of a termite swarm inside the home. Termite swarms describe the means of survival of termites where they reproduce and establish new colonies near their desired food sources. For drywood termites, their main food source is cellulose in wood.
A termite colony of drywood termites consists of approximately 4,800 termites. It usually contains soldier termites who protect the nest and worker termites who are in charge of foraging for food for the entire termite family, including the king and queen. Once a drywood termite colony has matured, termite alates (swarming termites) are produced and they are responsible for scouting for potential places to create new colonies.
A drywood swarmer termite can be distinguished with its wings that have very distinct patterns of veins appearing in the front set of wings. During drywood termite swarm season, flying termites leave the colony to take charge of multiplying and sustaining their population by establishing new nests. Upon finding a new home, swarmers easily shed their wings to leave behind evidence of their activity.
The majority of drywood swarming termite are present in the summer where the dry weather conditions are favorable for their activity. However, the particular species of West Indian drywood and Southeastern drywood termites prefer to swarm at night from the late spring to summer months. Meanwhile, Desert drywood and Western drywood termite swarmers are more active in the mid-day of late summer and early fall months.
A typical termite swarm activity may last within 30 to 40 minutes where they will exit through small holes in walls and wooden structures. They are drawn to light sources and usually fly toward light bulbs and lamps. Swarmers include male and female winged termites who pair up to mate and search for a new place to build their colonies where they can populate.
When a colony reaches the maximum capacity of termites, it can be difficult to sustain its nest and there is a need to expand its species. This is where a termite swarmer comes in. Also known as reproductive termites, the main role of the alates is to reproduce and form new colonies for their population to live in. The swarming season usually takes place once a year.
To begin the swarming process, the termites prepare a tube or launch site where they will take off for their flight. The swarm launches begin when the environment and weather conditions are all met. Once ready, the swarmers will use the tube to fly into the air where they will stay for a few seconds until landing and shedding their wings to find a partner.
Not all termite alates are successful in mating and starting a new colony. Some pairs of swarmers die within a day or few hours because of different factors such as dehydration and insect predators that can attack them as they fly.
Surviving pairs of swarmers then construct their nests where the future king and queen of the colony will mate and hatch eggs. These eggs will turn into larvae which will be taken care of by the king and queen until they grow to become worker and soldier termites. They will continue their cycle of foraging for food and protecting their colony until it matures and swarming takes place again.
Unlike worker termites, the winged alates do not have mouths and cannot bite or chew through woods inside homes. Most of the termite damage and evidence of the presence is done by their drywood termite workers. The common signs of drywood termite infestation are:
Termite swarming can generally occur anytime in the year depending on the type of termite species. Since they’re active at any given time, they can also be confused with another type of pest which is the flying ant.
Flying ants (mostly carpenter ants) and flying termites are similar since they are both winged species. However, flying ants can easily be distinguished since they have crooked antennae and unequal wings size. They can also infest wood but unlike drywood swarmers, they do not chew wood and cannot cause wood damage.
Subterranean termites swarm peak during the spring and summer seasons. Eastern subterranean termite is more common in late March through late July, while Formosan termite (also known as Formosan subterranean termite) usually swarms in late April through June.
Unlike drywood termites, subterranean termite swarms are most active during the day. The common infestation signs that hint at a subterranean termite colony is mud tubes which can be seen in exposed surfaces and concrete foundations.
On the other hand, a dampwood termite swarm can be detected during the summer months. Dampwood termites like to build their nests in moist wood surfaces, drain pipes, and areas with roof and water leaks. Like drywood termite swarmer, they also leave behind frass or droppings outside their homes as a sign of their infestation.
Drywood termites can enter properties and structures through vents, creaks, exposed cracks, and joints in wood surfaces. If a termite infestation is not treated immediately, it can cause significant damage to the foundation of the home as its main structural components to become weak due to the termites eating their way.
They can also attack any wooden furniture, tables, chairs, and cabinets, nipping at their structures and breaking them down to the point that they can no longer be used. Termites can be a big problem for both residential homes and commercial properties. Years of undetected termite infestation can eventually bring a structure down, causing homeowners and organizations thousands of dollars for damage repairs.
Upon discovering the first sign of drywood termite infestation, it’s best to consult with a pest control professional to determine the right termite treatment for your problem. They will initially conduct a termite inspection around the property to check the possible areas where they are inhabiting. Inspections are necessary to identify the extent of the infestation and damage brought by termites.
Depending on the results of the inspection, they can then suggest the best method to manage termites at home. The common options for treating drywood termite problems are:
Pest management to prevent termites from invading indoors can include sealing cracks and installing bug screens in possible entry areas. You should also safe-proof the home by repairing water leaks in pipes and roofs to control moisture that can attract certain types of termites. As much as possible, blocks of firewoods and scrap wood must be kept outside the home to avoid inviting drywood termites inside the home.
Drywood termite season peaks during the spring and summer months. Preparing ahead of their swarming season can greatly help in reducing the chances of termites coming inside homes and establishing their colonies in your property.
At Pinnacle Pest Control, we provide professional pest control services and products that can help control termites at home. We have teams of trained experts and technicians who can conduct thorough inspections to determine the right treatment that can guarantee the elimination of termites and all kinds of pests. Contact us now and we can discuss how we can solve your termite problem.