Termite Swarms

Signs of termite infestation in your home can be varied, depending on the species. A typical sign of infestation is a termite swarm.

When termites reach adulthood, the male and female reproductives, called alates, will leave the nest. These alates have molted from a nymph stage to an immature adult stage with wing buds. As they molt to the final stage of adulthood, they grow two pairs of wings. Swarming alates are black or dark-brown in color, unlike other members of their colony.

Theses swarmers will take flight in great numbers from special tubes that lead from the underground nest. Termite swarms usually occur in the spring or in a month where warm weather and rain combine. Termites will usually just swarm once per year, but some termite species will swarm twice or more. And, depending on the species, different types of termites will swarm at different times of the day. Most termites swarm during the day, but the Formosan termite swarms at night.

Termite swarms don't travel very far. Often, it's a burst of activity with a quick landing. Sometimes, alates are carried by the wind, but usually, they fly a short distance. The wings will break off after the termites land. The male and female will mate, and then begin building a nest to start a new colony.

Termite swarms are the most common sign of the presence of termites in your home. Sometimes, you can see a pile of wings left behind as evidence of a swarm. Theses swarming termites can often be confused with flying ants, so if you notice a swarm, look for some distinguishing features. Swarming termites are broad-waisted, unlike ants that have a thin waist between the abdomen and the thorax. Termites also have the same sized wings, whereas ant wing pairs are different in size and shape. Lastly, termites have straight antennae while ants' antennae are bent.