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In north central Texas we have Eastern Subterranean Termites and Formosan Subterranean Termites.  Colonies of both live primarily underground but the swarming behavior for each species is unique.

The Eastern Subterranean species is the most common and widely distributed in North America.  A termite colony will not send out swarmers until the colony is mature, generally two to four yers.  The queen doesn't produce swarmers until she has an adequate number of workers and soldiers to support her.  If you see swarmers emerging you can be sure this is a well established colony.  Swarming in Dallas occurs in the spring, during the day and usually after a rain.  The emergence of swarmers is triggered by a combination of environmental factors including warmth, light and moisture.  Swarming will occur simultaneously from separate colonies in a neighborhood or locale.  The mating of males and females from different colonies creates genetic diversity which is good for the survival of the species.

Male and female swarmers are very weak fliers.  A breeze will carry them easily.  Swarmers in your yard does not necessarily mean you have a termite colony on your property.  However, it does mean a mature colony is somewhere near by.  Swarming indoors is a good indication that there is an active infestation and you should call for an inspection.  Fortunately, only a small percentage of swarmers survive to create new colonies.

It is believed that Formosan Subterranean Termites were introduced into the United States in military supply crates following World War II.  They were first detected in a Houston, TX shipyard in 1956 and have been moving inland ever since.  They are presently in at least 30 Texas Counties.  They were first detected in Dallas County in 1998 and Collin County in 2002.

While they are in the same family as our native termites, Formosans display very different and economically important differences. 

  • The colonies are larger and much more destructive.
  • If there is adequate moisture they can live above ground.  They are dispersing in shoring timbers and recycled railroad ties often used in retaining walls and backyard planting beds.  They have also been detected in wood mulch.
  • Formosans will infest and destroy healthy trees.  They have been known to attack 47 different plant species.
  • A native colony may be tens of thousands up to 300,000 termites.  A Formosan colony can be millions of workers.  A queen can lay up to 1,000 eggs a day.
  • Formosans have been known to chew through plaster, plastics, asphalt and even this sheets of soft metals like lead and copper.

Swarming

Formosans swarm in the evening in May and June.  They are strongly attracted to light so you may see them around outdoor lighting, windows or doors.  Swarmers inside a house are strong evidence of an active infestation.  They are attracted to windows.  Wings of natives and Formosans will break off when they hit the glass.  Keep these as they may be used for identification.

Termite Swarmer vs. Winged Ant Reproductive

People call believing they have a termite infestaion.  They are always relieved when we tell them they have ants.  The differences are straight forward if you look at the insect closely. The easiest identifying differences are the wings and body shape.

Wings:  Termites have two pairs of identical sized wings.  This is one of the reasons they are not good fliers.  Ants front wings are much larger than the rear pair.

Body Shape:  Ants clearly display three body segments - head, thorax and abdomen.  Jarrod likes to say the ant has a necklace and belt.  The termite swarmer  body is  straight with little distinction between body segments.

When in doubt - Natural Pest Solutions is glad to schedule a free home inspection. 

Call us 214-763-2758 or send an email - info@GuysinGreen.com

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