Drywood Termite Swarmers--What is This?
Although drywood termites usually do their destructive work without bothering you, the drywood termite swarmer is different. About once a year, usually in the fall and with the right temperatures a drywood termite colony will send out winged reproductives called alates. These are often referred to as swarmers.Though they have wings they are weak flyers. You might see them in the air shortly after they launch, but they don't go very far. So usually what you see is a bunch of them walking around.
Now the swarmers themselves, from the stand point of a termite control person are more like a nuisance pest. Eating the wood in your home is not what they do. Instead their goal is to pair up, male and female, dig a chamber into some available wood and begin laying eggs to start a new colony. This pair then become the king and queen of a new drywood termite colony. When this colony has been able to grow and mature for about 3 or 4 years they will begin sending out their own swarmers.
The first year a new colony sends out swarmers it can usually only produce about 1 or 2 dozen. As the years go by and the colony continues to thrive they are able to produce a larger number of swarmers each year. Consider the picture at the top of this article. Due to an abundance of natural variables that can effect how well a colony is doing, it is impossible to say how long the colony that produced this swarm has been growing. However it is a safe bet to say that this colony has been thriving for many, many years and that is where the real problem lies.
All living things need food to thrive. Food for the drywood termite is cellulose, a component of wood and wood products. This colony has been thriving on something. Unlike a subterranean termite colony that lives in the ground and can feed off of many homes, the drywood termite colony can only feed off the wood it can get to through their tunnel systems inside the wood. So if the colony is in the wood in your home, your home is the only source of food for this colony.
The swarmers themselves, though they don't do any significant damage themselves, if left unchecked will cause your current problem to grow exponentially as the new colonies they create grow and start foraging for food. These swarmers can also spread your infestation problem to your neighbors.
Now if you do see these swarmers around your home, in some cases they may not actually be infesting your home at all. For example if you see them on your patio and you call for an inspection you may find that they are actually coming from an old tree trunk in your yard, your fence or even your neighbors home. Only with a complete inspection can you properly determine their source. However even if the source of the swarmers is not actually in your home, you still want to address the problem. With this type of drywood termite activity nearby it is only a matter of time before they do find their way into the wood of your home.