The first termite swarmers of the year were observed 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.
Some ants also swarm in spring. Ant antennae have a 90 degree bend and there is a distinct narrow “waist” between the thorax and abdomen.
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. The publication Termite Control: Answers for Homeowners (ENTFACT-604) contains information to aid in making sound choices.
By Lee Townsend, Extension Entomologist