Have you been dealing with pesky termites swarming in or around your home?

It's that time of year when those Formosan subterranean termites come out to play and wreak havoc on our neighborhoods. These critters start swarming as early as April and keep at it until June, with their peak season hitting us in the middle of May.

Basically, if you're anywhere around Mother's Day, you're in the midst of peak termite season in south Louisiana.

What's the deal with these termites? Where do they even come from?

These termites are not just your ordinary bugs—they're invasive troublemakers from East Asia that hitched a ride on military cargo ships after World War II. Louisiana got the short end of the stick when these pests made their grand entrance. They first showed up in Lake Charles and New Orleans, and now they've spread their reign of terror to a whopping 42 out of 64 parishes. Yikes!

Facebook, LSU Ag Center
Facebook, LSU Ag Center

These subterranean termites are sneaky little devils. They build their nests underground and dig tunnels in the soil, searching for anything cellulose-based to chow down on. That means they'll munch on dead or live trees, structural lumber, cardboard, and paper. The Formosan subterranean termites are more menacing than the native species because they form colossal colonies, act aggressively, and construct these above-ground carton nests. These guys mean business—they can cause a boatload of damage in record time.

What does "swarming" mean when it comes to these bugs?

Now, you might be wondering, what are termite swarmers? When the time is right, termite colonies produce these winged adults called swarmers. They fly out of their nests for a mate and a cozy spot to start new colonies. After a brief flight, they shed their wings, and a male-female pair scurries around, looking for the perfect spot with enough moisture and food. They do their thing in their freshly dug nest chamber, pump out offspring that become workers and soldiers, and take up their roles as king and queen. If they can't find the right environment to set up shop, they usually end up as bug food themselves.

What makes these termites "different?"

Here's the scoop on spotting these swarmers. Unlike the native termites that swarm during the day, the Formosan subterranean termites prefer to fly at dusk when it's warm, humid, and windless. These little critters are yellowish-brown in color, and they have a thing for lights. Imagine thousands of them swarming around a streetlight, causing quite a spectacle.

Is it bad news if these guys are spotted on the block? Even worse, what if I see them in my home?

Now, what does it mean if you catch sight of these swarmers? Well, those buggers aren't the best fliers, and they typically don't go more than half a mile from their home base. So, if you see them buzzing outside, it's a telltale sign that a large group of them is nearby—either in trees or structures. It's not uncommon for a few stragglers to find their way into your home through vents, so don't be surprised if you spot them in your bathroom or kitchen.

Facebook, LSU Ag Center
Facebook, LSU Ag Center

But here's the real deal-breaker: if you find these buggers flying indoors or see a ton of discarded wings lying around your house, you probably have more than a few termites on your hands (hopefully, not literally). These swarmers themselves don't cause damage, but their offspring—the workers—are the real troublemakers. They tirelessly hunt for cellulose materials to munch on and wreck your property. So, if you spot swarmers, it's time to take action to protect your home.

How to safeguard your home and property to clap back at these pests

Smashing swarmers won't do much to stop the ongoing termite party. Don't panic; killing the swarmers won't protect your property from further termite activity and damage. You must take proactive measures to protect your home, starting with an inspection by a pest management professional and following up with a proper treatment.

Facebook, LSU Ag Center
Facebook, LSU Ag Center

You can also limit their food and water sources by removing wood, cardboard, and other cellulose-containing materials from around or under your home, keeping mulch away from the foundation, fixing leaks, and sloping the landscape to drain water away from the house.

As a matter of fact, this viral Facebook post from the LSU AgCenter listing six things you must know about these seasonal swarmers has been shared over 5,000 times as South Louisianans deal with these creepy critters.

If you're curious and want to know more, you can even collect some of the insects or their wings for identification. And if you're still unsure, you can always contact Dr. Qian "Karen" Sun at qsun@agcenter.lsu.edu or your local LSU AgCenter Cooperative Extension office.

Don't let these pesky termites ruin your home!

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Gallery Credit: Katherine Gallagher

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