A large number of winged insects are well known for being common pests of homes including house flies, fruit flies, gnats, mosquitoes, and occasionally, wasps and honey bees establish nesting sites within interior wall voids. In some cases, large numbers of swarming ants and termites invade or emerge within homes. These swarms are known as “mating swarms” and they are composed of hundreds, or even thousands of individual reproductives known as “alates.” Alates take flight from mature ant and termite colonies for a certain period of time each year, usually during the spring following bouts of rain. This is why mating swarms are often referred to as “seasonal swarms.” Typically, mating swarms emerge outdoors on warm days when the air is still, but if an ant or termite colony is located within or near a home, swarms emerge indoors.
When it comes to both drywood and dampwood termites, both of which can be found in Georgia, the occurrence of an indoor mating swarm indicates that an infestation has been active within structural wood for years. The occurrence of an indoor ant swarm strongly indicates that ants have established reproductive nesting sites within a hidden, and often, inaccessible indoor area such as wall voids and tight attic spaces. While all termite pest species are able to establish reproductive nesting sites within structural wood in a home, only a minority of ant pest species are able to establish reproductive nests within homes. While they are certainly known to occur, indoor mating swarms do not typically emerge within homes, as ant and termite infestations are usually noticed and eradicated before alates take flight from indoor nests. This is especially true when it comes to termites, as termite colonies must mature for at least four years before they become capable of producing reproductive alates. However, when it comes to ant pests that are difficult to eradicate from homes, such as Pharaoh ants and carpenter ants, one or multiple nests can remain after infested homes are treated. In these cases, ant swarms may emerge within homes. Red-imported fire ant swarms are known to emerge indoors, but in almost all cases, red-imported fire ant swarms originate from outdoor nests located against exterior foundation walls, as fire ants rarely invade homes.
Have you ever found dead alates within your home, such as on window sills or near door frames?