When Do Subterranean Termites Swarm?

08 April 2024 · 3 min read


Termite Swarms

Subterranean termite swarms are an intriguing but often unsettling occurrence for homeowners. Subterranean termites, like their above-ground counterparts, engage in swarming behavior as an essential component of their reproductive cycle and colony growth. Read on to learn more about what happens during a subterranean termite swarm.

What is a Subterranean Termite Swarm? 

Subterranean termites, unlike their aboveground counterparts, build colonies beneath the soil’s surface. As part of their reproductive cycle, their colonies generate winged individuals known as alates. When the conditions are right— usually during the warm months — these alates emerge in larger numbers from their underground nests in what is known as a termite swarm. These swarms consist of thousands of alates looking for mates and new places to establish colonies. 

Why Do Termites Swarm?

Termite swarms play an important role in the life cycle of these insects. They occur when a colony has reached a certain size and maturity level, signaling that it is time to expand. The swarming season is usually associated with favorable environmental conditions, such as warm temperatures and high humidity. During the swarm, male and female alates pair up, mate, and then look for suitable locations to establish new colonies. This process ensures genetic diversity and the viability of the termite population. 

When Do Swarms Occur?

Typically, subterranean termite swarms occur in the spring and early summer, but the exact timing varies depending on environmental factors. Swarms can occur throughout the year in warmer regions. However, they are most common when temperatures rise and rainfall increases, creating an ideal environment for termites to survive and thrive. 

Checking for an Infestation:

Identifying a termite swarm can provide homeowners with an early warning sign of a potential infestation. However, swarms are not always visible because they frequently occur underground or in hidden areas. 

Here are some signs to look for:

1- Winged Termites: Look for discarded termite wings near windowsills, door frames, and other light sources. These wings are frequently the only visible indicators of a swarm. 

2- Mud Tubes: To get from their nests to food sources, subterranean termites build mud tubes, also known as shelter tubes. Look for these tubes on foundation walls, crawl spaces, and wooden structures.

3- Wood Damage: Subterranean termites eat wood from the inside out, leaving hollowed-out galleries. Tap on wooden surfaces to listen for hollow sounds, which may indicate termite damage. 

4- Visible Swarmers: In some cases, homeowners may notice a termite swarm indoors or near the outside of their home. If this happens, you should contact a pest control professional for a thorough inspection.

Professional Swarming Termite Control

Termite swarms are a natural phenomenon that is essential to the underground architects’ life cycle. Understanding their swarming behavior and recognizing signs of infestation allows homeowners to take proactive steps to protect their homes from termite damage. If a termite swarm is discovered or suspected, contacting Greenhouse Termite and Pest Control is critical to reducing the risk and ensuring the long-term health of your home. We specialize in subterranean termites and can provide the most effective solution to eradicate the infestation. 

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What is your termite risk in Florida? UF/IFAS scientists explain – it depends where you live – News (ufl.edu)

Termite Swarmers – What Do They Mean for You? | NC State Extension Publications (ncsu.edu)

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