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Drywood termite colonies are located within fixed nests that are contained entirely within single pieces of above-ground wood, while subterranean termite colonies are located in diffuse nests located in the ground-soil. Once colonies mature for a period of three to seven years, reproductive swarmers (alates) emerge. Alates take flight from colony nesting sites in order to mate and establish new colonies as queen and king. The eastern subterranean termite is the only termite pest species found in the northeast, and this species is easily the most destructive of all termite species in the US. Mature eastern subterranean termite colonies are often composed of a network of several interconnected nests that cover large areas of land. It can be assumed that many, or even most neighborhoods, especially neighborhoods located near wooded areas, are located above numerous subterranean termite nests. Because of this, termite swarms frequently emerge within or near homes.

It is not uncommon for residents to find dead alates around doorways and on windowsills within their home, and occasionally, residents find themselves in the thick of an indoor termite swarm. Eastern subterranean termite swarms emerge during the late spring and early summer seasons in Massachusetts, and spotting swarms within or near homes is frequently taken as a sign that an active infestation exists. Residents often respond to nuisance termite swarms by spraying the pests with aerosol bug spray, but this is not advisable, as bug spray will cause alates to stick to indoor surfaces. After killing large numbers of alates with bug spray, residents often assume that their termite troubles are over, but this is not the case.

When termite swarms emerge indoors, it is likely that an active infestation has been established, and when they emerge near a home, one or more colonies may be located on the property. Alates are attracted to lights, so they may gravitate toward windows, but finding them on window sills inside of homes indicate that they emerged indoors and made an effort to escape outdoors. In many cases, alates emerge in homes from small holes in drywall, and pinpointing these holes allows pest control professionals to locate the initial entry point/s. Indoor termite swarms frequently emerge from nests located in crawl spaces or against foundation walls. When indoor termite swarms occur, a pest control professional should be contacted for an inspection, which will focus mainly on substructural wood sources located beneath homes.

Have you ever found dead termites within your home?