Subterranean Termite Swarmers--What is This?
Although subterranean termites usually do their destructive work without bothering you, the subterranean termite swarmer is different. About once a year, usually in the spring and with the right temperatures a sub- terranean termite colony will send out winged reproductives called alates. These are often referred to as swarmers.Though they have wings they are very 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 burrough, usually in the soil and begin laying eggs to start a new colony. This pair then become the king and queen of a new subterranean 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, many years and that is where the real problem lies.
All living things need food to thrive. Food for the Subterranean Termite is cellulose, a component of wood and wood products. This colony has been thriving on something. Your home may not be the only source of food for this colony but if your seeing these swarmers inside your home you have a good guess where some of that food has been coming from.
The swarmers themselves, although they don't really do any damage, if left unchecked will cause your current problem to grow exponentially as the new colonies grow and start foraging for food.
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 they are not infesting your home, you still need to address the problem. With this type of subterranean termite activity nearby it is only a matter of time before they find your home.