The subtropical climate in Louisiana makes the state a major breeding ground for destructive termite pests all year round, but every year during the late spring and early summer, LSU extension entomologists become overwhelmed with public inquiries concerning the wood-hungry insect pests. This is because most of the eight termite pest species in Louisiana begin their annual mating swarms around Mother’s Day, and understandably, massive swarms that consist of thousands of winged termites (alates) tend to concern homeowners. This is particularly true of Formosan subterranean termite alates, as these termites form particularly large swarms that gravitate toward electrical lighting in urban and suburban areas, such as street lights, porch lights, and indoor lights.
According to urban entomologist Qian “Karen” Sun with the Louisiana State University AgCenter, Formosan swarms last for two to three months, and they emerge at around dusk and dissipate at around 10:30 at night. Sun also states that residents should turn off their lights at this time in order to prevent nuisance Formosan swarms from gravitating onto properties where a pair of alates may carve out a new colony nest site within yard soil, and possibly, within interior structural wood in homes or cosmetic wood on the exterior walls of homes.
In addition to keeping porch lights off during the evening hours, homeowners in Louisiana should make a point to fix any rainwater or plumbing leaks and trim landscape vegetation before Formosan termite swarms emerge each year. Eliminating leaks is tremendously important for preventing infestations because all subterranean termite species are biologically geared to detect moist wood, including interior structural wood that has become saturated with moisture from leaks, pipe condensation, improper rainwater drainage systems, faulty gutters or downspouts, and poor ventilation in crawl spaces, cellars, basements and attics. Keeping mulch and vegetation at least 18 inches away from the exterior walls of homes is also important for the purpose of termite prevention, as mulch, gravel and vegetation overgrowth around foundations traps moisture within crawl spaces where it is absorbed by substructural wood members.
Do you take measures to make your home and surrounding landscape less hospitable to termite pests?
Tags: Termite Control, Termites