Termite Control - Swarming termites cause a stir in Slidell
By: Kia Hall Hayes
Once again, it's time for thousands of winged creatures to rise up from the earth, buzz around porch and streetlights, and -- to homeowners' horror -- cram themselves through window and door frames in homes and businesses.
It's termite swarm season.
Every May, the infamous Formosan subterranean termite begins its mating season. During this four- to six-week period, the insects take flight at night from underground tubes and swarm around the nearest bright light. Those that aren't eaten by birds or other insects find a mate, and then shed their wings, burrow into the ground and start a new colony.
"Kind of like when our kids grow up and they make a new residence; it's the same with termites," said Armando Ruiz, president of Blue Star Pest Control in Slidell.
From there they tunnel into nearby homes and devour everything in sight, raising the rancor of homeowners.
Normally beginning their mating dance around Mother's Day, the insects began swarming a couple of weeks ago. They were delayed, experts say, because of the unusually cold winter. On Monday night in Slidell, areas around streetlights and neon signs were teeming with them, prompting residents to flood local pest control companies with desperate calls for help.
At Blue Star, Ruiz guessed they received around 30 calls.
"That's about average when we have a swarm like we did Monday evening," he said.
At Bugs RIP Pest Control, also in Slidell, co-owner Stacy Dufrene said this year's swarms seem smaller than last year's. Swarm season is normally their busiest season, but not so this year, she said, a development she attributes both to the cooler start of the season and to sluggish home sales resulting in fewer calls for pre-sale inspections.
The Formosan termites, named for the island now known as Taiwan, came to the states by hitching rides on cargo ships returning from the Pacific after World War II.
Now inhabiting primarily the warm southeastern states, the termites have been described as some of the country's most expensive pests. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Formosan termite research program in New Orleans, the insects cost the country an estimated $1 billion to $2 billion per year. The total annual economic loss caused by all subterranean termites is as much as $11 billion, including preventive treatments and damage repair costs, the program says.
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