Identifying Drywood Termite Swarmers (Look for discarded wings)

Termites, Drywood

Drywood termite swarmers are released from their termite colony several times per year. This is a winged breeder that functions to expand the population by creating a new colony in another location.

Also known as alates, these insects mate and then lose their wings. Mated queens will then find gaps, holes, or other openings in building materials to enter. These openings become nests and they are where mated queens will lay their eggs and brand new colonies will be formed.

Signs Of Drywood Termite Swarmers

The most common and easy-to-detect signs of termite swarmers on your property are the discarded wings that these bugs leave behind once they have mated. These wings are thin and silvery and look a lot like fish scales. They can often be found on the lawn, however, is not uncommon to find discarded wings in the home near other visible signs of termite infestation, such as near mounds of termite feces or in HVAC vents.

Swarmers can take to the sky during both daytime and nighttime hours, however, swarming is usually most common during midday when temperatures are warm. Insects that swarm at night are often distracted by bright lights and are thus frequently found near porch lights or near other, nighttime landscape lighting features. It is additionally important to note that drywood termites are not adept fliers and thus, after their initial launch, many of these bugs can be found walking around on the ground.

Video showing drywood termite swarmers against some ants

What Having Drywood Termite Swarmers On Your Property Means

Having drywood termite swarmers on your property means one of two things:

  • There is an existing termite colony foraging on your property that is preparing to expand
  • A termite colony somewhere near your home has identified a desirable nesting area and will likely set up camp on or near your abode

Among some of the typical entry points for drywood alates are:

  1. Under wood roof shingles
  2. Around wood door frames or windows
  3. Under eaves
  4. Small gaps in wood siding
  5. Crawl spaces

If you already have a known termite problem on your hands, evidence of swarming means that the population is readying for an increase. This can result in an exponential increase in overall property damages as well as an increase in the rate at which property damages occur. It is also important to note that a drywood termite swarm can produce multiple new colonies so long as there is adequate access to moisture and food for sustaining these new insects. Thus, as soon as you identify swarmers on your property, it is important to contact pest control professionals.

The Seasonal Activities Of Termites

Depending upon your location and the type of termites surrounding or living in your home, swarming can occur more than once per year. Many homeowners mistakenly assume that these bugs go dormant during the winter months and thus, they put off essential termite treatments until the early spring. Unfortunately, this is when swarming is most likely to occur and thus, a delay in treatment will not only result in additional property damages throughout the winter months given that existing colonies will continue to forage undetected, but it can also result in the formation of entirely new colonies and the rapid advancement of damages in the future.

What Drywood Termite Swarmers Look Like

Alates are of the reproductive caste. Unlike other termites in the colony, these bugs have two, distinct sets of wings. Their front wings have a heavy pattern of deeply pigmented veins on their outer-front portion. Drywood termite swarmers will have three of these pigmented veins on their front wings, while subterranean alates have just two. Drywood swarmers typically measure approximately 12 mm long.

Another important difference between drywood and subterranean alates is the fact that a drywood termite swarmer population is likely to be much smaller than that of subterranean insects. Subterranean swarmers can take to the air in numbers as high as a hundred or more while a swarm of drywood alates may contain just ten insects, which can make drywood swarms a bit difficult to spot. For this reason, finding discarded termite wings anywhere on the property should be cause for concern, even if there have been no other visible signs of swarming. This is especially true given that swarming can occur at night (although less commonly), and may be wholly undetected.

What Pest Control Companies Can Do

Pest control companies can perform a whole-house termite inspection in order to determine whether or not the building structure is currently hosting any colonies of foraging insects. This will also give your providers the opportunity to look for new nests, inspect any discarded wings that you have found and determine the specific type of termite that you are dealing with. Treatments for subterranean termites and drywood termites can be vastly different, which is why it is vital to have insects positively identified by pest control professionals before attempting to implement a treatment plan on your own.

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