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Can Subterranean Termites, And Termite Swarms Pose A Threat To Homes In Georgia During The Winter Season?

November 13th, 2019

The southeast US is the most termite-heavy region of the United States, and this is largely due to the hospitable subtropical climate in the region. The humid and relatively mild winter temperatures in Georgia allow termites to remain active pests all year round in the state. The eastern subterranean termite is the most frequently encountered termite pest in the US, as well as the most cold-hardy. Even on the most frigid winter days in Georgia, eastern subterranean termites can survive freezing surface temperatures in soil by tunneling deeper beneath the ground where temperatures become progressively warmer.

While all subterranean termite species adjust to colder temperatures by digging deeper into the ground, eastern subterranean termites perform this behavior more readily and rapidly than other subterranean termite species found in Georgia. This is especially true when comparing the eastern subterranean termite to the invasive Formosan subterranean termite, as the latter species did not evolve in temperate regions where cold weather makes downward tunneling a necessary survival behavior. The eastern subterranean termite is the only subterranean termite species in the US with a native habitat that extends into Canada. For these reasons, the eastern subterranean termite is the most active termite pest species during Georgia winters. Although invasive Formosan subterranean termites remain active during the winter season in the southeastern states, this species is relatively rare in Georgia.

Unlike subterranean termites that dwell in soil, drywood termites dwell in single pieces of above ground natural and finished wood sources. Therefore, these pests do not have the advantage of descending to warmer depths below the ground during bouts of cold winter weather, but their wood habitat keeps drywood termites well insulated from cold outside temperatures. Drywood termites infest homes as reproductive alates while swarming, but drywood termite swarms only occur during the spring and summer seasons in Georgia.

Drywood termite alates can emerge from existing indoor colonies within infested Georgia homes during the winter, but they perish shortly after taking flight in these cases. Subterranean termites generally swarm during the spring and summer seasons as well, but alates can also take flight all year round in the state. Unsurprisingly, seasonal eastern subterranean termite swarms begin early in the year during February, and the light southeastern subterranean termite is known for swarming well into the fall season in Georgia. Generally, subterranean termite swarms are rarely witnessed during Georgia winters, and swarming subterranean alates do not pose a threat to structures.

Have you ever witnessed a termite swarm at any point during the year?

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