Every year, urban entomologists and pest control professionals urge Louisiana homeowners to take measures to prevent termites from infesting their property before swarms emerge during the spring season. This year’s early arrival of multiple Formosan subterranean termite swarms in Metairie, Slidell, Lakeview, and New Orleans is indicative of a termite-heavy summer season.
Last April, the Louisiana Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner, Mike Strain, warned residents about the likelihood of high termite pest activity in the coming weeks. According to Strain, homeowners should spend their downtime in quarantine inspecting their home for termite damage, as well as for conditions that are conducive to termite pest activity. Residents have been heeding Strain’s advice, and professional termite inspection services have been common this spring in southern Louisiana despite the COVID lockdown.
Termite swarmers are known as “alates,” and Formosan alates emerge from mature colonies around Mother’s Day every year in order to establish new colonies. Alates of many termite pest species in Louisiana emerge during the spring, but Formosan swarms are unique for being particularly large and common in urban centers. Formosan alates take flight in humid, windless, and 90 degree conditions during and after dusk, and most swarms occur shortly after rainfall.
Formosan alates have a strong attraction to artificial lighting, and this attraction prompts massive swarms to gravitate around street lights, porch lights, and even indoor lights. This is one of several reasons as to why Formosan subterranean termite infestation rates are epidemic in urban areas where the pests are found, most notably in New Orleans.
Luckily for homeowners, the vast majority of alates in a swarm die before establishing a new colony, but the very few alates that manage to mate in a shallow ground burrow typically survive to become the queen and king of a new colony. Since alates are weak flyers, most swarms fail to travel more than 300 yards away from the colony in which they emerged.
While alates of most subterranean termite species almost always establish new colonies within moist ground soil, Formosan alates are unique for frequently initiating colonies in moist structural wood located high above the ground. Many experts agree that New Orleans is more heavily affected by Formosan subterranean termite pest activity than any other city in the world, and their non-native habitat in the southern US can never be eradicated. At least one professional termite inspection should be carried out on all Louisiana properties at least once per year.
Do you have a professional termite inspection carried out on your property each year?