BATON ROUGE, La. – Each year around Mother’s Day, Formosan subterranean termites begin swarming in many areas of south Louisiana and in some central and one northern parish.
Many residents will notice them around lights at night beginning in April with some hanging around until August, said LSU AgCenter entomologist Dennis Ring.
“Early to mid-May is when they will swarm most,” Ring said. “But there be some ‘swarmers’ around later into the summer looking for a mate.
The organization or caste structure of the colony consists of reproductives, soldiers and workers. It is the reproductives that have wings and are looking for a mate at this time of year. Ring said that is what the swarm is all about – starting a new colony.
Treatment is important to keep the insects from infesting your home, and Ring recommends homeowners hire professionals for the job.
“Any homeowner could dig the trench and apply the termiticide, but there are areas that would just be too hard for the average homeowner to reach,” Ring said.
People begin to believe their homes are infested when they see the pests flying around their lights at night, Ring said. “This doesn’t mean the Formosans have infested the house, but you should make sure your home has been treated already.”
Ring said he tells homeowners they shouldn’t worry too much if they see a few termites in the house. The time to worry is if you are seeing 50 to 100 and you don’t know if the home has been treated.
“It is unusual, but you can see swarms anytime during the year,” Ring said. “But normally when you see swarms during these odd times is when they are responding to a treatment that’s been applied.”
Formosan subterranean termites are different from native subterranean termites in that colonies have larger numbers, and each termite is a little bigger, so they eat more wood, Ring said.
They also build an above-ground carton nest, which helps them survive and makes them a more difficult pest to manage, Ring said. “They are also known to eat the centers of live trees, which we don’t believe our native termites do.”
“Formosan subterranean termites have been in this country for more than 60 years and are known to be in most of south Louisiana, parts of central Louisiana and in Ouachita Parish,” Ring said.