Appearance and Size Facts
- Formosan subterranean termite alates are caramel to brownish-yellow in color
- Tiny hairs cover the entire body and wings
- Keep their wings after swarming for a longer period of time than most other termites
- Look exceptionally similar to their cousins, the Asian subterranean termite; however, the Asian subterranean termite alate has a distinct dark/light coloration that cannot be confused with a Formosan subterranean termite alate
- Size: Swarmers are about 1/2 inch in length, including the wings
Behavior and Habitat of Formosan Termites
Formosan Subterranean termite colonies begin small, but may grow to over 5 million termites. Three to five years after the colony is started, winged reproductives (swarmers) are produced. Swarmers, or alates, do not reproduce in their original colonies. They swarm out of the colony by the thousands in an attempt to pair with an alate from a different colony. Swarming usually follows a warm, rainy day in late April through June, and typically occurs in the evening. Formosan subterranean termites are heavily attracted to exterior lights, and will fly by the hundreds or thousands to these during their swarms. In general, Formosan subterranean termites are not more aggressive than other termites, but do have many more termites per colony than other termite species.
Formosan termites have huge underground colonies, often 10 times the size of other subterranean termite species. They also build mud carton nests in the walls of a structure. These nests may contain tens of thousands of termites and can hold enough moisture for them during dry periods.
Signs of Infestation of Formosan Termites
Look out for swarms and broken off wings as signs of a mature colony. Earthen mud tubes may also be visible around baseboards, doors, windows, and other wooden items inside of the structure. On the exterior or inside of crawl spaces, look for earthen mud tubes coming up from the ground, attaching to wooden beams, concrete blocks, or pillars.
Tips for Prevention of Formosan Termites
Avoid water accumulation near your home’s foundation by reducing humidity in crawl spaces with proper ventilation and diverting water away with properly functioning downspouts, gutters, and splash blocks. Never bury wood scraps or waste lumber in the yard and make sure to eliminate wood contact with the soil. Maintain at least a 1 inch gap between the soil and wood portions of the building. Terminate stucco or siding at least 3-4 inches above grade for proper inspection of termite activity. Pull mulch and other debris away from the house at least 1-2 inches for proper inspection, as well as to reduce general household pests from harboring or entering the structure. Elimination of termites from structures is best left up to professional pest management companies, such as Hulett Environmental Services.