When Do Termites Swarm In Florida?
August 18, 2023
Starting in early March, many termites swarm in Florida every year. Since Florida has the highest number of termite species in the United States, various types of termites swarm through the summer months. While this is the most likely time of year to see flying termites, we've received calls for swarming termites year-round.
What Do Swarming Termites Look Like?
All of the species of termites present in Florida will swarm as they seek to mate and create new colonies. Below are the types of termites in Florida:
Formosan Subterranean Termite
Formosan subterranean termites swarm in Florida from March through June every year. This type of termite is by far the most destructive termite in Florida, with massive colonies that cause rapid wood damage. We've been told they can consume up to two to three pounds of wood in a standard-size home per day!
Subterranean termites live underground and will build shelter tubes called “mud tubes” out of pieces of soil and wood to protect themselves while traveling between a food source and their nest. Unlike other subterranean species, Formosan termites can actually create aerial termite colonies, where they swarm and can form a colony in a structure without requiring soil contact.
Asian Subterranean Termite
Asian subterranean termites swarm in Florida mostly from March through May. While their appearance is quite similar to Formosan termites, Asian subterranean termites are slightly smaller and have heads that are dark brown, while Formosan termite heads are lighter yellow-brown or orange-brown.
While these termites are smaller, just like other types of subterranean termites, they can still cause massive wood damage to homes in South Florida. In general, subterranean termites are much more destructive than drywood or dampwood termites due to their colony sizes.
Eastern Subterranean Termite
Eastern subterranean termites are one of Florida's native subterranean termites. They typically swarm from November through May each year. These are small and dark-colored termites that swarm during daylight hours.
Like other termites, Eastern subterranean termite swarmers are attracted to light, so you'll often find their discarded wings on windowsills.
Dark Southeastern Subterranean Termite
The dark Southeastern subterranean termite is about 1/3 inch long and has a dark brown or black body. Swarming occurs in the summer months during the daytime hours.
These termites prefer wood with an over 20% moisture rate. Leaks and conducive conditions – including mulch along the exterior foundation of your home or tree stumps in your yard – can attract subterranean termites to your home.
Light Southeastern Subterranean Termite
The light Southeastern subterranean termite has a lighter brown body than the dark Southeastern subterranean termite. They're more rare in Florida, but can still damage structures.
These evening swarmers typically swarm from November to March. Due to the time of day these termites swarm, they may be mistaken for drywood termites. It's very important for termite inspectors to properly identify the type of termite present since eliminating them relies on the correct treatment being performed.
Cuban Subterranean Termite
Cuban subterranean termites are found on the southeast coast of Florida from the Florida Keys up to Palm Beach. These termites swarm from September to February, with peak flight taking place in December. These flights typically occur at dusk or at night and – like other flying termites – they're attracted to light.
West Indian Subterranean Termite
West Indian subterranean termites have rectangular heads, and the swarmers – or alates – have wings that are approximately 9-10 mm in length. Their upper bodies are a pale yellow-brown to orange-brown, and the margins of their wings have tiny hairs.
Their swarms occur at dusk or at night and are most active during Florida’s rainy season in May and June. Smaller flights can occur from August through November, shortly after rains.
West Indian Drywood Termite
West Indian drywood termites usually swarm from April through June; however, these flights can occur any time of the year. Alates have two easily identifiable pairs of hairless, iridescent wings, which have three to four darkened and pronounced veins.
Drywood termites are more common in older metropolitan areas with aged wooden structures and high population density. They create termite droppings called frass from the wood they consume, which are often found underneath the wood they have infested. The frass varies in color, including cream, red, or black.
Western Drywood Termite
Western drywood termites alates have orange-brown heads and dark brown abdomens. The wings are dark with a smoky tint.
These termites have been reported to swarm indoors in Florida during all months of the year except for December. Most of their flights occur from September to November and during daytime hours.
Florida Drywood Termite
Florida drywood termites are present from St. Johns County south. Since they don’t require high moisture levels, they're most often found in dry, dead trees, logs, stumps, and branches. We have often seen them in dead branches within ficus hedges that have been killed by whiteflies.
Alates of this termite species are 8.5 to 9.7 mm long and the head and body are a dull, pale brown color. Their wings are long and have three to four veins visible in the part of the wing closest to the body. Peak swarming season is March through May.
Florida Dampwood Termite
Dampwood termites are the largest termites in Florida, but they cause the least amount of structural wood damage. Unlike subterranean termites, they don’t forage in soil and are typically only found in structures when there’s a water leak, as they require high moisture levels.
Dampwood termites swarm in Florida from late spring to early winter. Their flights occur at dusk or night and they can get into homes when doors or windows are open at night with light attracting them into the house.
Like drywood termites, they produce frass, but the pellets of dampwood termites lose their shape due to the high moisture in the dampwood termite galleries.
Cone-headed termite swarmers have dark bodies with dark wings. These termites swarm in Florida annually during the rainy season, from May to November, usually after rainfall.
Mature colonies of cone-headed termites can reach up to fifty thousand workers and – as their name implies – these termites have heads with a cone-shaped tip.
Why Do Termites Swarm?
Termites swarm when they are seeking to reproduce and create new colonies. After a brief flight, the swarmers shed their wings and begin to look for potential nesting sites within wood.
When male and female termites mate and the females begin laying eggs in the new colony location, the new colony begins to form. When the eggs hatch, the larvae molt into worker termites, and some of those turn into soldier termites.
Eventually, these new termite colonies mature and reach the point of being able to produce their own swarmers to continue the cycle of new colony creation.
When we receive calls about swarmers, people are usually alarmed and want to schedule treatment immediately to prevent wood damage. Unfortunately, it can take as long as five to ten years for termite colonies to fully mature to the point of producing swarmers. This means by the time they are swarming inside ?a home, they've been there damaging wood already for quite some time.
How to Get Rid of Swarming Termites
Flying termites are attracted to light, so homes and commercial buildings are often targets. While you can't always keep the lights off, there are things you can do to help reduce the attraction of your home to swarming termites.
- Reduce moisture: Make sure sprinklers aren't hitting your home or wooden fences. Replace mulch along your foundation with stones. Repair any leaks present.
- Reduce exterior lighting: Bright white security lights can be replaced with yellow or purple bulbs, which will greatly reduce the number of swarming termites and other flying insects.
- Increase visibility of your home's foundation: By removing shrubs and other debris surrounding your foundation, you can improve the likelihood of spotting subterranean termite mud tubes. Early detection of termites is critical to preventing wood damage in your home.
- Remove unnecessary wood: Store lumber or firewood away from your home’s foundation. Also, remove any tree stumps; they'll often attract termites and are one of the first areas we'll inspect during a termite inspection.
- Schedule a termite inspection: Termite inspections are often free and can provide the peace of mind that your home is protected.
Swarming Termite Treatment in Florida
Termite control in Florida first depends on the type of termite present within a structure. Fumigating a home won't do anything to stop subterranean termites from coming up from the soil. Installing termite bait stations in the soil won't do anything to stop drywood termites which have no contact with the ground.
So first, it's important to identify the swarming termites you are seeing. A licensed and top-rated termite control company like Native Pest Management can schedule a free termite inspection.
Tent Fumigation in Florida
If swarming drywood termites in Florida are identified, the first option is tent fumigation. This process requires extensive preparation and leaving your home for two nights. A termiticide gas is put into your home that kills 100% of the drywood termites, and this gas dissipates upon removal of the tent.
The good thing about tent fumigation is that when properly performed, it completely eliminates all drywood termites present in the structure during the tenting process. The downside is that it is the most expensive termite control option, requires lots of preparation, and has no residual effect to prevent future termite infestations.
No-Tent Termite Treatment in Florida
When drywood termites swarm in Florida, another option for control is a no-tent termite treatment. This process allows you to stay in your home with minimal preparation needed.
A borate dust or liquid is applied onto the exposed wood in your attic, areas with high termite activity are injected with a termiticide foam, and a preventative application of foam or dust is applied in areas of the home most susceptible to future termite activity.
Tentless termite treatments are popular because they are much more convenient and less costly than ?tent fumigation. They don’t require poisonous gas, and they have a residual effect that helps prevent future termite activity.
The downside to no-tent termite control in Florida is that it is unlikely to fully eliminate termites after the initial treatment. While a transfer effect of the product helps eliminate termites hidden within wood, some smaller drywood termite colonies may be hidden, and won't make themselves known until they either produce visible termite droppings or swarm and take flight.
Termite Spot Treatment in Florida
While a termite spot treatment in areas with visible drywood termite activity may eliminate the termites present in that specific area of wood, it isn't a treatment that we recommend. There's a high likelihood that if termites have ever swarmed in your home, then there are colonies present in more than one area that would fail to be controlled by a simple spot treatment.
It's our opinion that doing a more comprehensive treatment that's guaranteed, such as a tent fumigation or a no-tent termite treatment, will be far more effective.
Termite Bait Stations in Florida
Termite bait stations are our favorite method of preventing subterranean termites. It’s also the most eco-friendly method of termite control we provide. Bait stations are guaranteed and are proven to be effective when installed and monitored correctly.
There are various types of termite bait stations in Florida. One type is monitoring stations which only have wood in them and are checked quarterly until activity is noted, at which time active bait is installed.
At Native Pest Management, we prefer using Trelona Advanced Termite Bait Stations that have active bait in them the day they're installed, to provide you with the peace of mind that your home is always protected.
Termite Trenching in Florida
Another effective subterranean termite control method is called a trench treatment. This treatment includes digging a twelve-inch trench along the foundation of your home and applying a termiticide inside the trench for termite control and prevention.
While this treatment method is effective and guaranteed, it's important to know the type of product applied. While a repellent product would prevent termites from crossing, any gap in the soil barrier provides an entry point for termites. At Native Pest Management, we prefer using non-repellant products that collapse and kill termite colonies if they come in contact with the termiticide in the soil.
The downside to this type of treatment is that it disrupts your soil and landscape and can often require drilling in areas of pavers or concrete in order to inject the termiticide product into the soil.
The Best Termite Control in Florida
At Native Pest Management, we specialize in pest control and termite prevention.
With over 3,000 five-star reviews on Google, Yelp, Facebook, and HomeAdvisor, we're confident we can identify the swarming termites you may have present in your home and provide a guaranteed treatment to eliminate them as soon as possible.
Call us today to schedule your free termite inspection!