The first termite swarmers of the year were seen last week. In Kentucky, termite swarms can occur from March through May. These dark-bodied winged males and females, which are the dispersal and reproductive individuals of the colony, usually leave warming soil soon after a rain. Dozens to hundreds may take flight, but only a few live to establish new colonies. An underground colony may have to be 3 to 4 years old before swarmers are produced.
The sudden appearance of swarmers usually is the first sign of an infestation. While termites are serious structural pests, there is no need to make a hurried decision about control. This publication contains information to aid in making sound choices http://www2.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef604.asp.
Termite swarmers have approximately 1/ 4-inch long bodies with long straight antennae and 2 pairs of equal-sized wings that break off easily. The leg-bearing thorax and abdomen join broadly. Some ants also swarm in the spring. Ant antennae have a 90 degree bend and there is a distinct narrow “waist” between the thorax and abdomen.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist