According to NOLA.com, during the past week Formosan subterranean termites have begun their annual emergence as alates. (Photo: USDA-ARS)
According to NOLA, during the past week Formosan subterranean termites have begun their annual emergence as alates, the winged form the pests take to spread and reproduce.
Though termite trackers so far have spotted small numbers of alates, the heavy swarms that send the critters clustering around porch lights and creeping through window frames and door jambs in late spring are only one to two weeks away, said Frank Guillot, program coordinator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Formosan termite research program in New Orleans.
"We're seeing a few alates that we're now catching in traps," said Guillot, referring to the "sticky card" traps the program suspends from French Quarter streetlamps.
Typically the alates begin to emerge in mid-April from their colonies, where they leave behind plenty more termites in egg, larva and worker stages. Due to the unusually cold winter, however, "the swarming season is a little delayed this year," Guillot said. The winter probably won't make any difference in the Formosans' numbers, though, and residents can expect to see heavy swarms in mid- to late May, lasting until the end of June or early July, he said.
"Usually around Mother's Day, we see our first big swarm," Guillot said, but because of the delay, "the Mother's Day load is roughly 10 days to two weeks away."
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