The Unique Termite Colonies That Contain Airborne Termites All Year Round

In order for termites to establish new colonies, the presence of winged termites within active colonies is essential. It is well known that termite colonies are divided into different castes. Simply put, these castes include the royal pair (queen and king), workers and soldiers. For the most part, the royal pair is solely responsible for reproduction within a colony while workers forage and construct nests. Soldiers, of course, are responsible for colony defense. However, winged termites, known as alates, are produced within a colony shortly before they disperse and establish new colonies elsewhere. After shedding their wings, these alates become the queen and king of a new colony. Alates are not necessary for day-to-day operations within a colony. Therefore, alates are only produced shortly before a particular species swarming season, which is usually in between the spring and fall seasons. However, one particular group of termites are an exception to this rule. The Cryptotermes cavifrons species of termite live in colonies that contain winged alates all year round, which means that the alates of this species can swarm at any point during the year. This is not the norm for termites, but like other termite species, C. cavifrons alates mostly swarm during the spring season.

Alates of the C. cavifrons species can fly to new areas in order to start new colonies at any time of the year, but always during the evenings. In most cases, alate dispersals occur between the months of March and May. When termite alates land, they twist off their wings before mating. At this point, the wingless alates are called dealates.

cavifrons are widely distributed throughout tropical and subtropical regions ranging from South America to Florida. Due to this species’ need for high moisture environments they are often found infesting dead plant matter, mainly logs, tree stumps and branches. This species rarely infests structures, but they are sometimes found in homes and buildings located in southern Florida.

Have you ever found termite markings on branches or other pieces of wood located in forested regions?

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