by Bert Snyder, Graduate Entomologist
Formosan Termite swarm season is quickly approaching in the Lowcountry. Subterranean termite swarms occur every spring as a natural part of the termite life cycle. Eastern subterranean Termites swarm late March through early May. Formosan subterranean Termites swarm late May through June.
Locals consider termite swarms part of the “charm” of living in the Lowcountry, but many residents not originally from our area are not familiar with this event. Many people mistake the “hovering clouds of termite swarmers” for other flying insects or as ants after they drop their wings.
History of Formosan Termites
The Formosan Subterranean Termites originally brought over on ships from China established themselves in Charleston in the mid 1950s. Now after 50 years, the Formosan is the dominant subterranean termite in the Lowcountry and is the most common swarmer found in homes.
Mature Formosan Termite colonies produce termite swarmers that fly out of colonies by the thousands. One colony can produce 70,000+ termite swarmers in any given evening flying toward lights in and around homes with many crawling inside after dropping their wings.
Science of Formosan Termites
Termite swarmers have no biting or chewing mouth parts and do not cause any damage to your home. Their goal is to start a new colony around your home, which may eventually infest your home and cause damage.
If you find termite swarmers in your home, do not panic. You should collect some of the swarmers in a bag or jar and immediately call a licensed and trained expert with experience in handling Formosan infestations.
The expert will verify the swarmers you collected, as well as inspect your property to verify the source of the swarmers. The source is one of the following:
I ) Significant termite activity close to your home. including tree infestations. Formosan termites have been identified as infesting at least 17 different tree species).
2) An infestation in your home.
Historically, greater than 95% of the termite swarmers we have found inside homes originate from outside – not from an infestation in the home. However, if you find termites swarming in your house, this should not make you feel secure or take termite swarmers lightly.
Formosan Termite Damage
Formosan Termites have the ability to cause thousands of dollars in damage in just a few months. It is possible that Formosan Termites are causing 75 to 100 million dollars in damage to structures in the Lowcountry each year. On average, this is more than storms and fires combined. Homeowners Insurance does not cover termite damage.
Every swarming termites sighting must be investigated! It is not a matter of “if” but “when” you will have an infestation. In fact, you could have a hidden termite infestation in your home doing damage for several years before it is discovered.
Let Palmetto Exterminators protect your home from Formosan Termites. Stay up-to-date on swarm season by following us on Facebook, on YouTube, and on our Blog for more information on this subject and all things bugs.