Are winged termites attracted to light? In this article, we will find out if termites like light or not.
Swarming termites are quite common in spring and consist mainly of Formosan termite species that fly in search of new breeding locations.
An understanding of what this flying action translates to will make any homeowner concerned especially when lots of them come around your home.
So, what attracts these future termite kings and queens? Is it possible that light could be the reason? There’s good ground for such an assumption because these winged insects tend to swarm around street lights.
If you’re not fully convinced about their attraction to light, this article will answer your questions.
Why the Worry?
On sighting termite swarms around a home, some homeowners are concerned while others seem indifferent. Now the question is; why worry when these pests don’t look harmful?
With their presence, you’re faced with 2 potential problems; firstly, an active termite infestation may be going on.
On the other hand, there could be an impending infestation. Of the two scenarios, the latter seems much easier to deal with than the former. When ignored, these termites eventually get rid of their wings and find mating partners from where they move to start their colony.
All might seem alright until signs of their presence become evident after a period of 2 years. If you aren’t lucky enough they might have caused significant damage before being detected.
Swarming Termites And Light
Swarming or flying termites are indeed attracted to light. They fly to just about any light source they can find and most do so at night.
During swarming season, subterranean termites leave their colonies to find partners of the opposite sex from where they proceed to establish their colony.
Because they mostly come out at night, these subterranean termites will congregate or swarm around light sources including street lights after which they drop to the ground.
Their wings aren’t so strong which is why they don’t travel far during swarming.
It’s important to note that the colonies they left behind will continue to remain active.
Why the Attraction to Light?
The reasons for termites being attracted to artificial lighting aren’t clear.
However, some theories seek to provide answers. Such theories point to pheromone mimicking, phototaxis, and transverse orientation as possible explanations for light attraction.
According to findings by entomologist Phillip Callahan from the US Department of Agriculture, female insects secreted pheromones that were slightly luminescent.
According to the findings, this explained why male insects flew right into candle flames because they mistook such female mating signals.
Although there are disputes to this theory, it could explain why termites are attracted to light. It’s important to note that this isn’t conclusive as it’s only a theory.
Phototaxis closely associates insect attraction to light with the need for survival and self-preservation. It’s a logical approach that considers the need to find illuminated spaces from finding food and also avoiding predators.
Although it sounds logical, there are still doubts as to the veracity of such claims. In other words, it’s possible that phototaxis could be the cause of termite attraction to light.
Transverse orientation has it that termites and other flying insects navigate by following a definite angle connecting to a distant light source.
Like the other theories, there’s no certainty about the underlying reasons for termite attraction to light.
Of all these possible explanations, what remains a fact is the attraction of termites to light. That will suffice for our discussion as we’re only interested in finding out if termites get attracted to light.
Will Switching Off my Lights Reduce Termite Presence?
This is a great question! Due to the potential danger posed by swarming termites, it’s natural to seek countermeasures to use in combating or keeping them off.
Switching off your porch lights is one of many strategies to keep swarming termites at bay.
With your lights turned off, there’s no incentive to be around your home. However, the downside is that your home stays dark. You’ll need to have window and door screens in place to prevent them from coming in due to the light indoors.
If you can, have your interior lights turned off too. You may only have to wait a few hours to turn your lights back on. By then, they’d have long ended their flight.
If you can’t afford to have your light turned off, consider switching your white bulbs to insect-resistant bulbs. Yes!
There are bulbs designed for such a purpose and these are yellow in color.
Have a Pest Control Service Come Around for Inspection
We earlier mentioned that swarming termites around your home could be due to an existing infestation or a potential infestation scenario. It’s difficult to find answers without further inspection.
Your best bet of finding answers is by having a pest management service come around for termite inspection.
Here, you’re adopting a preventive approach that helps identify issues before they worsen.
A pest control service can determine the underlying issues around your property and provide far-reaching solutions to any problems arising.
Is there any Way to Stop Swarming Termites?
Unfortunately, there’s no way of stopping flying termites.
Once it’s that time of year, they emerge from different colonies making it impossible to contain such migration.
However, you shouldn’t be disappointed as you can respond by taking preventive actions such as those mentioned above.
It’s totally okay to be concerned with the presence of swarming termites due to the havoc caused. You’ll need to take urgent steps to curtail their spread by having your surroundings inspected the next day following their flight.
There’s little you can do alone.
In other words, you don’t have the trained eyes to inspect and know what needs to be done. You’ll have to rely on the expertise of the technician.
This could lead to the discovery of a more severe infestation you knew nothing about.
Your suspicions about flying termites being attracted to light are true. We’ve discussed the possible reasons why.
Also, we’ve proffered simple, yet effective containment strategies to adopt such as switching off your lights or replacing your bulbs with insect-resistant ones.