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Within the pest control sphere, there are many different times of the year when certain insects become problematic. Although most pests are more prevalent within homes during certain times of the year, there are a few species that have no set time frame for increased activity.
Termites remain active within colonies throughout the entire year. Interior temperatures within homes and businesses provide comfort to the insects.
Confusion exists due to interior termites maintaining a year-round active season but flying termites, also known as alates, are primarily seen during early spring, which is when these termites begin to look for new colonies.
When does termite season begin? Termites have no fixed, seasonal starting point and are active year-round. Alates will emerge from a colony during the spring to start a nuptial flight, which is the process of scouting for areas to start a new colony.
What Month Do Termites Come Out?
When termites are able to establish an active colony, either inside of wooden structures in a home or business or, in wooden structures outdoors, the colony remains active throughout the entire year. Termites are not regulated by season temperatures and this is due to the insect’s ability to survive inside of wood, which also provides the required nourishment needed for survival.
The key difference within the species is flying termites or alates, which are actually termites who simply leave a colony due to overcrowding. Flying termites will leave a colony to seek a new colony and mate and this almost always occurs with the onset of spring and throughout the season.
You can expect to see flying alates in late March or early April, preferably after a heavy rainstorm.
What Are Termite Alates?
Flying termites are essentially termites that have matured and left the colony through exit holes on the outside of the infested wood structure. All termite types become flying termites at some point in their lives, and even queen termites will have wings, which allows them to search for a new perspective colony.
Every year mature termite colonies develop a special caste of termites called winged reproductives or “alates”. These alates normally reach maturity in spring. The colonies then wait for a suitably humid day, often a very hot day with an afternoon thunderstorm to release all their alates through exit holes.
The exit holes are typically located high in trees, although sometimes they are located inside your house on the outside of infested wood. If you see winged termites swarming inside of your home, this is a most urgent sign of a mature and active interior infestation.
What is the First Sign of Termites?
Termites with wings will essentially resemble a non-winged termite with the addition of a pair of translucent wings that appear veiny when examined up close. Flying termites can also be identified by their distinctive antenna, which will appear straight with a slight curve at the tip.
The most recognizable trait of this type of termite will undoubtedly be the swarming behavior of flying termites, which is a bit like swarming flies around a food source. Termite swarmers will typically be noticeable around the outside of closed windows, or near a wood structure which is being scouted as a possible food source and colony base.
Another facet of swarming termites is that this behavior is usually what occurs during the mating cycle. Once winged termites exit a colony, they will typically begin the process of congregating in the air. This is a mating call of sorts, as the males swarm repeatedly in one spot to attract females.
You can expect to see flying termites in the spring months, which is a clear sign to begin taking precautions against fliers taking up residence in or near your home.
Are Termites More Active in Summer or Winter?
Termites are more active in the summer months, which is the same for nearly all types of insects. Because termites can exist with little to no disruptions inside of wood, this can prolong their active period for the entire year.
“Termite activity is greater during the warmer summer months compared to the cooler winter months.” According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information
Many reasons likely exist for this, with the springtime mating cycle being the most likely.
Do Termites Go Away on Their Own?
Once an active colony has been established, termites will not simply go away on their own. A certain number of termites will branch out as alates during the spring; however, the active colony will not disappear.
Furthermore, the flying termites that leave a colony will likely move to a nearby wooden structure to start a new colony. If your home has termites, the alates will simply move to new structures and start a colony there.
Are Flying Termites Active Year-Round?
As previously mentioned, During swarming season, the sight of flying termites is a sign of active nearby colonies. If you see termite swarmers in your home, chances are you have a termite infestation.
This occurrence means that an existing colony has matured to the point where there is a lack of room inside of the structure, which means that a new generation of termites has been expelled through exit holes to start a new colony somewhere nearby. Since termites are not very apt fliers, seeing them usually means that the colony of origin is within a few feet from the swarm.
Once the mating process is complete, this new generation will be on the lookout for a new wooden structure to colonize. If you see winged termites outdoors in your yard, this is a better sign then if you see them indoors.
Exterior termites with wings will often fly around a bit more than an interior swarm. When observed outdoors, these termites are typically on the lookout for an attractive structure to colonize.
Flying termites are likely the only termites you will ever visibly see. You can expect to see them exclusively in the spring months of March-June.
How Do I Prevent Flying Termites?
Killing flying termites is recommended, yet the process is not very easy due to the quick movements of the insects. Additionally, seeing flying termites within your home is a clear sign that your home is already infested or, the fliers are seeking wood sources to colonize.
The best method for killing flying termites during the spring months is to apply a powerful spray insecticide to all visible swarms. Killing flying insects presents the most difficult obstacles in pest control.
You can only kill so many flying termites in one go, which makes foggers a good choice to cover wider areas of terrain beyond an aerosol canister or a sprayer. Even with these possible methods at your disposal, a sign of flying termites is quite serious and it would be in your best interest to consult a pest control professional to inspect your home for active infestations.
Termites have no specific season that can point to a rise or fall in infestations. Once termites have formed a colony inside of a wooden structure, the colony will remain active throughout the year, specifically if the colony is indoors.
An active termite season usually corresponds to the spring months when flying alates leave an overcrowded colony to take a nuptial flight, which is a term for mating. Once the flying termites have mated, the insects will then seek out new wooden structures to begin a new colony.
Generally speaking, the warmer months are usually when most insect species are thriving and this includes termites. With this said, interior infestations can persist year-round for years, which is why eradication methods are crucial to expel the insects from your home or business.
Seasonal and Daily Patterns in Activity of the Western Drywood Termite. (2011). National Center for Biotechnology Information.