Ahh, springtime: the best time of the year. Flowers are blooming, birds are chirping and… termites are swarming!!
Unfortunately, Houston has a long termite season due to the warmer weather and multiple types of termites that live here (lucky us!). Although termites may be active year round, their peak activity is during the spring months, as temperatures start to rise and rain showers become more frequent. This is when the “swarmers” come out to play.
Termites are similar to bees in the sense that the colonies have different classes: there are workers, soldiers, a queen, and another group called swarmers. Think of swarmers as the teenagers or young adults of the termite world. They are young termites of reproductive age, around 2-4 years old, that are usually brown or black and have two sets of wings. Springtime warmth and humidity prompt large numbers of them (hence the term ‘swarmer’) to break free from the colony and find their termite soul mate.
Although they aren’t very good at flying, they take advantage of the light spring breeze to help carry them around. The females give off pheromones to attract the males, and instead of exchanging rings when they find a suitable mate, the happy termite couple drop their wings to make it official.
Once the young termites have mated, they go house hunting to find a place to establish a new colony; preferably a dark, damp area with lots of nearby wood to snack on. New colonies develop slowly, so the queen will only lay a small number of eggs in the first year, or she may not lay any at all. However within a few years, her egg production and the colony size will increase exponentially. This is why it’s so important to address a termite problem early!
There are many things you can do to make your home and garden a less desirable dwelling for termites:
Fix any leaks or faulty plumbing that may create excess moisture
Repair or replace broken roof tiles, or any cracks where moisture may accumulate
Make sure attics, garages and sheds are well ventilated to prevent humidity
Divert gutter water into a rain barrel, then use it to water your plants instead (bonus points for being resourceful!)
Clear your garden of excess limbs, and remove damp or rotting wood such as tree stumps or firewood
Cut back bushes, shrubs and other heavy vegetation
Instead of using wood mulch, opt for other types of organic mulch
It’s been a very rainy month here in Houston, so you can expect to see termite activity ramp up soon. Be on the lookout for signs such as dead termites, molted wings and droppings. Swarmers are also attracted to light, so if you see them buzzing around your porch light at night, then it’s time to give us a call for a free quote!