They say April showers bring May flowers—but what about flying termites? Today, we’re taking a closer look at the relationship between termites and rainstorms.
Here’s everything you need to know about these swarming, warm-weather pests.
Flying Termites 101
Flying termites are a common sight in the South this time of year. The spring and summer months in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, are when conditions are most favorable for termite colonies to produce and send forth their winged forms.
Also known as swarmers or (more scientifically) alate forms, these termites with wings come from mature termite colonies, emerging from the ground, tree stumps or cracks in foundations. Flying termites have a pretty straightforward job: to leave the nest, find a mate, and produce a new termite colony.
But, as it turns out, flying termites aren’t actually good fliers. In fact, they are unlikely to travel further than 100 meters from their prior colony, and many don’t make it that far before landing.
Once flying termites land, they discard their wings to initiate the mating and break ground on their new nest. Together, the new termite couple constructs a small underground chamber and the female starts to lay her eggs, establishing the beginnings of a brand new colony.
Flying Termites in the Rain
Below, we thought we’d answer some of your most pressing questions around flying termites.
1. Does Rain Cause Flying Termites?
Not exactly, but it’s related.
After heavy rains, it’s not uncommon to witness hundreds (if not thousands!) of termites swarming, flying around in search of new mates to start a new colony. And although rain is a factor, the swarming is mostly due to warmer temperatures, humidity, and the colony age. Often, a warm, sunny day after a spring shower will result in the ideal conditions for mature colonies to start sending forth their winged swarmers.
2. Why Do You See Termites With Wings After Rain?
With the sun shining and plenty of moisture in the air, the conditions are just right for termite swarms. In their winged form, termites are remarkably fragile, and their thin exoskeletons can dry out very easily when they’re exposed to the elements. The humidity in the air following a rain storm increases the amount of time swarms can spend looking for a suitable new colony site, increasing their chances of success.
3. Do Termites Come Out When It Rains?
Because they are such poor fliers, winged termites are probably not going to be airborne during a rainfall. They are much more likely to stay sheltered in place during the storm, only emerging once the sun has come back out and started to dry things out.
Look Out for These Types of Swarms
There are plenty of types of termites that will take to the sky in the right conditions. Below are a few to keep an eye out for.
1.a. Subterranean Termites
The most common type in the United States, subterranean termites build their colonies underground and rely on soil for moisture. They build worm-like tunnels along foundations and walls, and even through cracks in concrete, so even slab houses are not immune. These tunnels, which can resemble mud tubes, allow them to hunt for food while protecting themselves from the open air, which can kill them if they’re exposed to it for too long.
Subterranean termites mostly swarm during the spring.
1.b. Formosan Termites
The Formosan termite is actually just another type of subterranean termite. So why are they getting their own section? Because this invasive species of subterranean termite has been popping up with more and more regularity over the past few years, and experts are predicting they’ll be more active than ever this year.
And, more importantly, they pose a much greater risk to homes across the Southeast than any of the local termite populations we’ve talked about so far. In fact, in some circles, the Formosan subterranean termite has earned the moniker “super termites.”
When it comes to Formosan vs. drywood termites (or others), the difference is quite noticeable. For one, Formosan termites swarm in huge numbers—their colonies are approximately ten times as large as those of native Eastern subterranean termite species, and their swarms are dense and large enough to show up on weather radar.
On top of that, Formosan termites damage structures at a rapid rate. In as little as three months, a Formosan termite colony can completely ruin a healthy home.
2. Drywood Termites
As their name implies, drywood termites colonize in dry wood or other cellulose sources, such as paper or boxes, above ground. They require neither the soil contact of subterranean termites, nor the wet wood and water of dampwood termites — making them a particular threat to wood-frame attics, dry crawl spaces, and other similar areas in your home.
Even still, despite their propensity for dryness, drywood termites swarm after rainstorms at the appropriate humidity levels, just like their subterranean and dampwood counterparts. However, compared to other species, drywood termites swarm in much smaller numbers and lose their wings more quickly.
Drywood termites tend to swarm during the late summer and early fall.
3. Dampwood Termites
The most diverse of the three types, dampwood termites live in wet, decaying wood. They need regular contact with water and high humidity to survive. Their need for excessive moisture means that they’re not commonly found inside homes and structures, but any wet conditions inside your house — caused by leaks, for example; they are also attracted to any nearby food sources nearby, like damp firewood.
Dampwood termites more often swarm during the summer months and currently are not known to reside in the southeast..
For Flying Termites After The Rain, Trust Terminix
If you’re worried about swarmers, Terminix is here to help. Our team of local, expert technicians have the know-how and experience to help you find the termite control solutions that are right for your home and yard. Plus, Terminix services are backed up by the strongest guarantee in the pest control industry: if the problem returns, then so do we.
Not sure if there are flying termites in your home or not? Request a free termite inspection today!