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It’s Termite Swarming Season in South Florida

On a warm, humid evening, perhaps following a gentle spring rain, the air is alive with thousands of tiny winged insects, darting and fluttering in a chaotic dance, navigating towards the light around your property. This spectacle, while mesmerizing, signifies a significant event in the life cycle of termites and serves as a stark reminder of the constant threat these wood-damaging pests pose to our homes and properties in Florida and across the U.S.

Termites 101

Termites are small, social insects belonging to the order Isoptera. Like many other insects, they are technically herbivores, but the plant material that they seek out to eat comes in the form of the wood in our homes. Their fondness for the cellulose found in wood and other forms of plant matter gives them their destructive reputation. Termites are important decomposers in our ecosystems, but unlike some insects that primarily feed on dead or decaying wood in natural environments, termites have adapted to urban settings, including homes and buildings, where they find an abundant supply of cellulose-rich materials that they can digest into nutrients from symbiotic microorganisms in their guts.

Termites are persistent and resourceful, willing to burrow through a range of materials in search of food, shelter, and moisture. While trees in the forest provide a natural food source, the wood used in construction—such as decks, fences, timber framing, siding, and flooring—provides an equally appetizing alternative for termites. Once they gain access to an appealing food source, termites can quickly infest and cause significant damage, posing a threat to the integrity of your structure and therefore the health of everyone within it. If you suspect flying bugs might be termites, it is imperative to consult with a professional termite and pest control company.

Spotting Termites and Termite Damage

In appearance, termites vary depending on their role within the colony. Workers, responsible for foraging, building, and feeding the colony, are pale, soft-bodied insects with no wings. Soldiers, tasked with defending the colony from threats, have enlarged, dark-colored heads equipped with powerful mandibles. Reproductive termites, or swarmers, are the winged adults that emerge during swarms to mate and establish new colonies.

Termites are often referred to as “silent destroyers” because they hide in attics and crawlspaces, or within walls or furniture, and can cause extensive damage to your property before their presence is detected. Their relentless feeding habits result in hollowed-out wood with galleries and tunnels running through it, weakening the structural integrity of any affected areas. As termites continue to feed and expand their colonies, they can compromise roofs, walls, floors, ceilings, and other wooden components, potentially leading to structural failure if left unchecked.

Locating termites is challenging because there are various types of termites found in south Florida. For example, subterranean termites build mud tubes around areas with high moisture levels, further exacerbating damage to damp or poorly ventilated areas and presenting the risk of total structural failure. Whereas drywood termites feed in hidden galleries inside of the wood. A professional pest control company is needed to locate these cryptic bugs.

What Is a Termite Swarm?

Termite alate spreads its wings before taking flight.

Termite swarmers, also known as alates, are the winged, reproductive adults of termite colonies. Depending on the species of termite, the “swarm season” varies throughout the year. However, the species that are most concerning for homeowners in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast are found swarming in the spring and summer evenings.

During these swarms, termites emerge en masse from their nests, they take flight in search of mates and suitable locations to establish new colonies. This synchronized emergence, thought to be triggered by lunar events and favorable weather conditions, is a key component of the termite life cycle. But how exactly does this process unfold, and why do termites develop wings in the first place?

Like all insects, termites undergo a series of developmental stages, from egg to larva to nymph to adult. Within a termite colony, specialized castes perform distinct roles, with workers responsible for foraging and building, soldiers defending the colony, and reproductives, including swarmers, tasked with propagating the species.

As the termite colony matures and environmental conditions become ideal in the spring and summer, some individuals within the colony undergo a dramatic transformation. These termites, known as alates, develop wings—a distinctive feature that sets them apart from the wingless workers and soldiers.

These wings serve a crucial purpose in the reproductive process so the termites can fly and find a mate and a new suitable place to infest, such as a shed or home.


After emerging from their nests, swarming termites take flight on a journey to find a suitable location for colony establishment. These exploratory voyages can cover considerable distances, with some swarmers traveling up to several hundred yards from their original colony. During this migration phase, swarmers are drawn to areas with specific environmental conditions conducive to colony development. For subterranean termites, this can consist of moist, shaded spaces with access to wood or other cellulose-based materials for food. Drywood termites, on the other hand, prefer hidden and dry areas, such as access to a protected corner of an attic.

While natural habitats like wooded areas and tree stumps provide ideal conditions, urban environments offer an abundance of potential nesting sites. Homes and buildings constructed with wood components, such as timber framing, siding, and structural supports, are particularly attractive to termite swarmers seeking to establish new colonies.

Once a king and queen termite find each other and a suitable location is identified, termites shed their wings to fit into tiny gaps, cracks, crevices, or holes in order to gain access into your home. This shedding of wings, known as dealation, marks the transition from swarmer to reproductive termite within the new colony. With their wings discarded, often in large piles later found by the homeowner, the mated pairs begin the process of excavating a nesting site and laying eggs to initiate colony growth. As the colony matures, workers are produced to forage for food and expand the nest while soldiers defend against potential threats. A new “incipient” colony has now formed.

How To Stay Protected From Termites in Florida

Brown-winged termite swarmers on a cement floor.

The correct identification of termites is critical. Whether you are dealing with the West Indian drywood termite, or Asian or Formosan subterranean termites, the treatment method will differ. With a keen eye and an ability to recognize the signs, you can spot the termites before they establish themselves in your home, potentially avoiding a costly infestation. Regularly inspect your property for signs of termite activity, such as discarded wings, mud tubes, frass, or damaged wood, and if you find any, just call Hulett. Hulett will complete a free, no obligation inspection and make the correct identification and recommendations.

Our tent-free termite control and fumigation services eliminate drywood termites, whereas both native and invasive subterranean termites are baited with the Sentricon colony elimination system or liquid soil treatment. So whether swarmers have made their way to your home or you just want to play it safe and inquire about a preventative treatment program, count on Hulett’s termite control experts with more than 50 years of experience here locally in South Florida to do the job right.