It’s Termite Season
If you take walks in the early morning or evening you may have recently seen clouds of fluttering insects rising from the ground. They don’t fly well, but when backlit by the sun, it makes you think of quiet days sitting by a lake in the morning mist.
If only they weren’t termites.
When the rains fall, subterranean termites produce reproductive versions of themselves (kings and queens) that have wings. They leave the colony in massive swarms and attempt to find new places to live. Once they land, their wings fall off, they mate, and they try to start a new colony. It’s often a futile effort – the vast majority of new colonies fail.
A lot of termite prevention can be accomplished by making sure the boards of your home and your fences are treated or painted. Subterranean termites live in the ground so they don’t colonize in the rafters or siding like the larger drywood termites. The District recommends checking (or have someone check) your home every year to make sure there is no moisture build-up under the house, that soil is brushed away from touching any wooden surface, and that there is no rotten or untreated wood that termites could move into. You can sometimes detect infestations by looking for mud tubes coming up from the ground.
Just because you see termites outside (or even one or two inside), doesn’t mean you have an infestation. But many termites indoors (10+) could indicate a problem. If you catch infestations early, much of the damage can be remedied with epoxies and some replacement, but advanced infestations can be costly to repair.
Termites are an incredible food source for a large number of birds, insects (like dragonflies), reptiles, and amphibians and these fly offs are a Thanksgiving treat for those species. Subterranean termites are also really important for breaking down mulch and fallen logs into rich, fertile soil for plants. Careful planning and vigilance on our part can take much of the stress out of termite season and they will soon disappear into the earth like they never were here at all.