Formosan subterranean termite swarms occur each year during the month of May in Louisiana, but swarms can also emerge during April in the state. Early Formosan swarms are common when the preceding winter season is mild. Once winged Formosan termites (alates) take flight they gravitate to artificial light sources, like porch lights and street lights. Since Formosan swarms are particularly massive in size, they can become quite a nuisance around homes. This is why many Louisiana residents keep their outside lights off during the Formosan termite swarming season. Formosan alates bring the invasive termites into new regions, but underground Formosan habitats can cover several square miles of land, and can reach 30 feet below the ground surface. In most cases, Formosan subterranean termite infestations start when a foraging worker stumbles upon a home’s structural wood. This is not surprising considering that 99% of swarming alates die before starting a new colony. Although the spread of Formosan subterranean termites in Louisiana has slowed during recent years, the termites are still abundant all over the state, particularly in New Orleans.
Formosan subterranean termite colonies were found in Texas and Louisiana during the 1960s, but it was not until the 1970’s that the invasive termites emerged in massive numbers in urban and residential regions of southern Louisiana where they spread to trees, houses and buildings rapidly. The city that saw the greatest degree of Formosan termite destruction was New Orleans, especially the French Quarter. Starting in 1978, the economic cost of Formosan termite damage continued to increase dramatically with each passing year until next-generation poison baits became available during the 1990s. If it had not been for the introduction of effective baits that poison entire Formosan termite colonies, there would not be anything left of New Orleans today. The annual economic cost of Formosan termite control programs and damage repairs may soon surpass the annual cost of eastern subterranean termite activity. Nearly a decade ago, Formosan subterranean termite pest activity cost nearly 2 billion dollars per year, and this figure is likely much higher today.
Can you tell the difference between a Formosan subterranean termite swarm and swarms comprised of alates from other termite species?
Tags: Formosan Subterranean Termites