But lurking underground and in some cases in trees and walls is a ticking time bomb – Formosan subterranean termites (FST) – and they are getting ready to swarm.
Generally, it will be a late spring evening, just after a rain or especially muggy day, and clouds of the swarming insects will surround streetlights,
"In the eastern and southern United States, we have several species of native termites. We are used to them swarming in the beginning of spring, but Formosan termites have a different modus operandi."outdoor lights and other light sources. Within just a few hours these swarmers will pair up, lose their wings and mate – this begins the formation of new colonies.
FST swarmers look different from native termites.
They are about 1/2:” long and are a golden color with a light covering of hair on their wings which are transparent. Soldiers can be recognized by the distinct tear-drop shaped head.
Formosan subterranean termites have been in the US since around the 1950’s, first being described in New Orleans. Today they are found in at least 9 states and their distribution keeps growing. These are invasive insects and have a unique characteristic of building above ground nests, called carton nests.
Their colonies may contain several million members, which is several times larger than the native subterranean termite containing only several hundred thousand members. Another remarkable difference between native termites and FST is the number of soldiers in colonies. Native colonies contain between 1-2% and FST colonies contain 10-15%. In addition, FST soldiers are very aggressive, attacking any approaching threat.
If you think you might be dealing with a FST infestation, collect either swarmers or soldiers, preserve them in ethyl alcohol, and deliver them to a local extension office, entomologist, or university. If you need assistance controlling termites, contact your nearest Control Solutions, Inc Representative.