Group of termtites

Will your home survive the termite swarm?
Photo credit: Mullica via / CC BY

San Diego is blessed with year-round gorgeous weather. Unfortunately some blessings also have a downside. San Diego’s temperate weather also makes it an inviting home for three different termite species: subterranean, drywood, and dampwood termites. Each different type of termite has its own characteristics, including its own swarming schedule. As September approaches, it is time for young drywood termites throughout San Diego to pack their tiny termite suitcases and leave the nest to go out into the world and try to create their own colonies.

Yes, drywood swarming season has begun!

What Is a Drywood Termite Swarm?

A termite colony can only support so many termites until things start to get a little crowded. That is why each year special termites called “alates” take flight to try and find a new place to start a colony. Drywood termites tend to swarm between August and November, with September being their prime takeoff month. Usually, drywood termites swarm at dusk or at night, and some researchers believe they are drawn to bright lights, which is what brings them to the bright windows of your unsuspecting home.

The swarm is a dangerous journey for a drywood termite, and the vast majority don’t survive it. If you thought Oregon Trail was risky, these little termites are poor fliers and have even worse vision. They basically launch themselves outward and hope that the air currents bring them to a hospitable place. In most cases, termites face injury, starvation, or attack from birds, ants, and other insects. It almost makes you feel bad for the little guys…almost.

How Drywood Termites Form New Colonies

While most drywood termites don’t survive the swarming process, a small amount achieve success by encountering a source of wood that provides safety, food, and enough moisture to survive. Unfortunately, the termite’s new home might just might be your house! Termites can sneak in through a number of different avenues. If the exterior of your house has exposed wood, damaged eaves, crawl spaces, cracked fascia boards, or wooden decks with chipped wood, any of these places could be a paradise for pioneering alates.

When a male and female alate find a good home, they will shed their wings, establish a nest, and get busy growing the colony. The young queen will be begin laying eggs, which will hatch into workers that will eventually start gnawing more tunnels in the colony. Over many generations, the colony could grow to be as big as a few thousand members. At that time, the termites will begin swarming again each year in the fall and winter. If the colony is inside your walls, swarming termites could spread multiple separate colonies throughout your home, exponentially increasing the hidden termite damage taking place!

How to Prevent Swarming Termites from Invading Your Home

It is very difficult to stop tiny termites from getting into your home. One single crack in an exposed wooden structure is like a huge welcome sign to them. However, you can definitely make the process harder. Here are a few things you can do:

  • Do not let any wooden structures get too close to your house, including wood piles and mulch
  • Regularly stain wooden decks and patios
  • Regularly re-paint the siding of your house
  • Check window sills for damage and cracks
  • Place mesh coverings over attic and crawlspace vents

How to Spot Termites in Your House

Termites are the world’s best players of hide-n-seek. You could have thousands of termites in your house and never know it, because they are very small and live deep inside your wood where you can’t easily spot them. However, there are ways to track termites.

During a swarm, drywood termites have to come out into the open. If they are swarming inside of your home, you may see them. They kind of look like tiny flying ants. Another big tell is finding their translucent wings on the floor after they shed them. Look closely after you sweep up, especially between the months of August and November.

Drywood termites don’t like to keep their poop piling up in their tunnels, so they will actually kick it out of their tunnels. Their poop, called “frass,” looks like tiny grains of sand or salt and pepper. If you notice small piles of this sand-like frass on the floor, especially in a corner, near a window ledge, or near a doorframe, chances are that you have a drywood termite infestation.

Of course, the very best way to discover if you have termites is to schedule regular termite inspections. Afterwards, you may need to bring in a wood repair team to assess the damage and determine if the affected wooden structures can be repaired or should be replaced. If you live in San Diego County, contact Best-Rate Repair. We will give you a fair and honest assessment of any termite-related wood damage in your home and a competitive repair or replacement price.

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