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Considering that termites are cryptic insect pests that dwell below the ground and/or within wood where they cannot be easily detected, it is essential that homeowners recognize the potential signs of an infestation. Obviously, finding termites within a home is a pretty clear indication of an infestation, but most termite infestations are first noticed by the presence of termite feces, known as “frass,” or the presence of mud tubes on the side of a house. These mud tubes are created by subterranean termites as a pathway connecting the delicious structural wood they crave to the moist soil they need to survive. Another troubling sign of a possible termite infestation within a home is the sudden emergence of indoor termite swarms. Although a termite swarm that occurs within a home may indicate an active infestation, the winged termites themselves are not likely to establish a new infestation within a home.

Winged termites, known as “alates,” are notoriously bad flyers, as the vast majority of alates fail to establish new colonies. In order for a male and female alate to mate and successfully establish a colony, the climate must be sufficiently humid. It is for this reason that termite swarms within homes are unlikely to result in new infestations, as the indoor climate within most households is far too dry to support the development of new colonies. Also, when termite swarms occur within homes, the alates can easily be eradicated by simply sucking them into a vacuum cleaner. However, the presence of winged termite swarms within a home can indicate that an active colony is already infesting the home. But it is also possible for indoor termite swarms to originate from nearby outdoor colonies. Such colonies could originate from wood that exists within a homeowner’s yard, and not necessarily within the home itself. In any case, when a termite swarm occurs within a structure, contacting a pest control professional is necessary in order to ascertain where the swarm originated.

Have you ever witnessed termites swarming within a home or the surrounding property?