Monday, October 6, 2014

Late News on Desert Termites

Desert termite alates
I may be a day late and a dollar short on this one, but its still something I'm getting a few calls and emails about.  Last week, desert termites (or agricultural termites) swarmed in massive numbers.  I was lucky enough to have them swarm at my house, although no one else around me had any.  They were swarming to the porch lights and light colored portions of the house by the thousands.  It was pretty exciting!

Desert termites attracted to lights
Desert termites swarm around the fall - September, October, sometimes November.  And do so after a good rain.  Friday night, as soon as the rain stopped, they emerged!  It was definitely an exciting time for me.  They are large termites, honey or brown in color, with brown colored wings.  The species that swarmed last week have wings more than twice the length of the body.


Desert termites are not a structural pest at all, so if you are going to get excited about termites, these are the ones to get excited about.  They feed on forbes and grasses.  They aren't uncommon in a turf landscape and can cause some damage to turf, hay fields, and alfalfa.  But, not much can be done, other than watering to increase the length of the roots and breaking open the mud tubes they build on top of the soil to force them to move away.

Desert Termite mud tubes
If desert termites swarmed at your house this past weekend, don't panic.  No need to call the pest control company.  If you aren't convinced they were harmless termites and still have some wings laying around the garage, you are more than welcome to scoop them up and bring them to the Bexar County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension office and I will identify them for you and put your mind at ease.
Desert termites outside my backdoor in the morning - a great treat for my chickens!

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