It’s that time of year again, subterranean termites are packing up and taking flight. These warm sunny days following spring rains are when subterranean termites will begin to swarm, wreaking havoc in or around your home. Swarms will normally start to occur in February and continue through April.
Why are they flying around you may ask? The swarm takes place when the current colony consists of a large number of termites, up to a million, crowding the existing colony and needing a new food source. The termites will branch out and create a sub-colony. The swarmers have developed wings and are now ready to leave the nest. The swarmers will fly in groups to mate, disperse, and establish new colonies. Though quite a bit of these swarmers will die during this process due to predators such as lizards, ants, birds and other insects; they only need one king and one queen swarmer to start a new colony.
The swarmers normally fly less than 100 meters from their main colony or instead choose to travel through mud tubes into your neighbor’s property and settle in right next door. If the swarmers are taking flight, once they have landed they will find a mate and search for a new location to create a nest in the soil underground. The new colony is formed when the mated pair creates a small underground chamber, which they enter and seal along with other swarmers who help them build their new nest. Not long after the chamber is complete the mating occurs and the female begins laying thousands of eggs daily.
An established subterranean termite colony will now begin to feed and can travel up to 130 feet from the colony by creating mud tubes. Once the workers find a food source they will leave a “chemical trail” for others to follow. This chemical trail is actually a pheromone that is released allowing the termites to travel through the mud tubes making it to the food source. Termites are blind so without the chemical trail they would not know where to go.
High moisture areas like basements and crawl spaces are very attractive to termites and can serve as starting points for an infestation. If you think subterranean termites will not infest your actual home, think again. Once inside, termites can infest virtually any part of your home — wood trim, siding, wallboard, even picture frames. Subterranean termites only need a crack of one sixty-fourth of an inch in the slab floor to gain entrance into your home. They will use the mud tubes to travel through your home. If you have a moisture condition, let’s say in the attic, the subterranean termites can thrive up there as long as the moisture condition is present; thus meaning they can feast on that wood 24 hours a day 7 days a week without having to go back down to the soil.
Subterranean Termites need moisture to survive and will die if exposed to sunlight or open air for more than a few minutes. Their mud tubes protect them from the outside elements and predators. Since subterranean termites need moisture to survive, if you think about it, the soil under your home is a perfect area to create a colony for subterranean termites. The sprinklers watering your grass and plants help saturate the soil making it a perfect home for them to thrive. A typical home may easily have three to four colonies situated under or around it, with as many as 1,000,000 subterranean termites per colony.
Subterranean termites cause about 95% of the termite-related damage found in the United States. It has been stated that there are approximately 23 subterranean termite colonies within a square acre. Termites are the major wood-destroying structural pests in the southern United States. According to some estimates, over $2 billion is spent annually controlling or preventing termite infestations.
If you feel like you may be seeing signs of subterranean termites call Best Rate Termite so we can send out a licensed termite inspector to perform a free inspection on your property.