you take walks in the early morning or evening you may have recently
seen clouds of fluttering insects rising from the ground. They don’t
fly well, but when backlit by the sun, it makes you think of quiet days
sitting by a lake in the morning mist.
If only they weren’t termites.
the rains fall, subterranean termites produce reproductive versions of
themselves (kings and queens) that have wings. They leave the colony in
massive swarms and attempt to find new places to live. Once they land,
their wings fall off, they mate, and they try to start a new colony.
It’s often a futile effort – the vast majority of new colonies fail.
lot of termite prevention can be accomplished by making sure the boards
of your home and your fences are treated or painted. Subterranean
termites live in the ground so they don’t colonize in the rafters or
siding like the larger drywood termites. The District recommends
checking (or have someone check) your home every year to make sure
there is no moisture build-up under the house, that soil is brushed
away from touching any wooden surface, and that there is no rotten or
untreated wood that termites could move into. You can sometimes detect
infestations by looking for mud tubes coming up from the ground.
because you see termites outside (or even one or two inside), doesn’t
mean you have an infestation. But many termites indoors (10+) could
indicate a problem. If you catch infestations early, much of the damage
can be remedied with epoxies and some replacement, but advanced
infestations can be costly to repair.
are an incredible food source for a large number of birds, insects
(like dragonflies), reptiles, and amphibians and these fly offs are a
Thanksgiving treat for those species. Subterranean termites are also
really important for breaking down mulch and fallen logs into rich,
fertile soil for plants. Careful planning and vigilance on our part can
take much of the stress out of termite season and they will soon
disappear into the earth like they never were here at all.
Learn more about termites from the UC IPM Program.