Texas is home to several termite pest species that cause significant damage to timber-framed structures in every area of the state. These species include the eastern subterranean termite, the arid-land subterranean termite, the western subterranean termite, the western drywood termite, the native subterranean termite, the Formosan subterranean termite, and more. Termite control and repair costs in the US exceed 5 billion dollars annually, which makes termites the most economically significant insect pests in the country. In an effort to reduce the damage that termites inflict to structures, pinpointing termite habitats and tracking termite movements into new areas is a priority for government employed entomologists. This is especially true when it comes to the invasive Formosan termite species, which has established colonies within the entirety of the eastern half of Texas, but the Golden Triangle sees the highest rate of Formosan termite infestations. This is not to say that Formosan termite infestations are unheard of in west Texas, as these insects also infest dead trees that are sometimes removed so that the wood can be shipped to other areas of the state for commercial purposes . According to entomologists, the eastern half of Texas sees “very heavy” termite pest activity, while the eastern half is considered “heavy to moderate” in terms of termite pest activity.
While Formosan subterranean termites are most problematic in southeastern cities like Beaumont, Lumberton, Houston and Port Arthur, eastern subterranean termites are active in every region of the state. Eastern subterranean termites usually swarm during February and March in Texas, while Formosans swarm during the month of May, but swarms are often spotted in April as well. Unlike eastern subterranean termite swarmers (alates), Formosan subterranean termite swarmers are attracted to outside lights, much like moths. These swarms can become a nuisance, and if they are spotted near a structure, then a colony must be nesting nearby. If a swarm occurs within a structure, an active infestation has likely already been established. Not long ago, a massive Formosan termite swarm occurred near a business in Beaumont, causing the outside window sills and front walkway to become covered with thousands of dead alates. In other words, Formosan termite swarms are difficult to miss, as they are large in size and are apt to approach outdoor lights around dusk. Eastern subterranean alates are slightly smaller in size, and they often swarm during the daytime after a bout of rainfall. Western and arid-land subterranean termites are most abundant within the western half of Texas.
Have you ever examined a winged termite (alate) shortly after witnessing a swarm?