It is currently not hard to find piles of discarded termite wings in urban areas of southeast Texas, as winged termites (alates) of multiple species have been swarming frequently in the region. This time of year sees swarms of southeastern drywood termites, dark southeastern subterranean termites, arid-land subterranean termites and Formosan subterranean termites emerge in areas all over the southern half of Texas, particularly southeast Texas where Formosan subterranean termites are abundant. Alates from the most destructive termite species in the US, the eastern subterranean termite species, are probably still active, but their swarming behavior is winding down and will soon cease for the year. Formosan subterranean termite swarms are by far the most conspicuous, as these swarms contain a relatively high number of alates.
Formosan swarms occur at night, and alates are attracted to artificial lights, making swarms a major nuisance for homeowners. The bodies of Formosan alates are covering some homes, and many residents have reported the presence of thousands of alates gathering on window frames and entering homes beneath doors. In some cases, alates are establishing new colonies indoors. In Waco, a historically significant African-American church was recently found to be infested with termites.
The Texas Historical Commission has recently petitioned the National Park Service to have the St. James United Methodist Church building registered as a historically significant structure. The building was recently purchased by a couple who plan to open a restaurant in the building’s basement. Unfortunately, termites are damaging some areas of the building, particularly the original wood window frames. The termite pests were likely attracted to the high moisture environment within the building. The building’s significant leaks and water-logged structural and cosmetic wood provide termites with an ideal environment. Hopefully, the termites can be eradicated before they inflict irreparable damage. The building was constructed in 1924 out of brick masonry, but this has not stopped termites from eating away at the floors, window frames and parts of the roof.
Have you witnessed any termite swarms yet this year?