Tuesday, July 10, 2012

What is Flying in the Rain - Termites!

If its raining in your area, you've probably noticed small, very delicate little insects flying around.  These are desert termites, also called agriculture or agricultural termites.  And this is a very normal occurrence and nothing to stress over.

Some people are seeing hundreds, if not thousands of desert termites outside.  Me? I only saw a couple in my yard.  Desert termite swarmers (also called alates) are what we are seeing.  They are winged with brown bodies and brown/tan wings.  Different species may be different sizes, but their wings are nearly twice the length of their body.  The photo shown is only one species of desert termite, others can be smaller.

Desert termites will swarm or fly up in the air to mate during hot, humid times like this.  This is especially common after we've had a long period without rain and seems more common when its been exceptionally hot and the rain lasts a while, leaving the air extremely humid for the majority of the day.

Mud tubes formed by Desert Termites above ground.
Desert termites are not termites to be concerned about.  They do not feed on wood, so they are not a structural pest.  I always say, if you have to have termites, you want these guys!  Desert termites do feed on forbes, native grasses, turf and mainly the roots of those plants.  When its dry, the roots get shorter, the termites follow and they sometimes end up above ground. When more plants are dying in the drought, they're food sources are everywhere, which is why we seem to see more of them.





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