Environment

Balmy weather leads to annual termite ‘phenomenon’ in Adelaide

Swarms of termites have been spotted in the sky by Adelaide residents, an annual phenomenon that occurs with warm, balmy weather.

If you’ve noticed swarms of winged insects lately, you’re not alone: Termites have been taking to the sky due to recent weather conditions, which have created the ideal atmospheric breeding conditions for these flying insects.

Bugs N Slugs owner Kris Messenger says this swarming phenomenon is a very normal event for termites, and most of the reports she received were from suburbs such as Campbelltown and Newton.

So, you might be wondering why these termite swarms happen. There are colonies of termites across Adelaide, and the swarms tend to take place in the foothills amongst bush land. When an established colony is ready to expand, the termites take off on a ‘nuptial flight,’ where males and females leave the colony en masse, fly up into the air, mate, and land to start a new colony.

The nuptial flight is an important phase in the reproduction of most ant, termite, and some bee species, and warm, balmy weather signals the termites to fly- often in the lead-up to rain.

Termites are clever weathermen: They read the weather and know which nights are the best to fly, and once a species has flown, it won’t fly again for at least 12 months.

Although many people might find termites to be an annoying insect, Kris says the importance they play in the ecosystem is enormous.

“Termites are important recyclers, they are really important in the process of creating hollows and habitat for other animals; a lot of our wildlife nest in hollows and termites are a vital part of hollow creating. Plus, they are a super important food source for all kinds of animals. Birds need things like termites to feed their babies, they are so essential,” she says.

“With all those fluffy, cute animals that you love like birds, bats, and possums come these vital components of the ecosystem that support all of those fabulous things, and the success of those animals often rides off the back of creatures like termites.”

“From little things big things grow, and you can’t have the ‘tourism’ wildlife without the really annoying little pesky things that do all the hard work.”

Not sure if you’re looking at a termite or a flying ant? Kris says there are a few key differences between the two: Ants have a very tiny, narrow waist, while a termite has a broader waist, and both pairs of termite wings are the same length, whereas ants have forewings longer than their hind wings.

Although some species of termites can be quite destructive in houses, Kris says if you’re treating for termites or have good biodiversity around your house you should be okay. And, she says if the termites do manage to fly inside your house, don’t panic: you can simply just vacuum them up.

“There’s 34 bazillion of them out there so you don’t have to feel like you’re destroying nature by vacuuming them up,” she says.

However, if you’re concerned, call your local pest control, who have many safe, targeted control methods for dealing with termites, such as subterranean traps and bait traps.

To learn more about Bugs N Slugs, click here.

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