Termite Activity in Southeast Marks Brink of Spring

Break in cold front triggers termite swarms in Southeastern cities, including Atlanta and Orlando.

Despite the wintry mix recently blanketing parts of the country, the Southeast is seeing the first signs of spring: slightly warmer weather and termite swarms. As temperature changes prompt most people to prepare for the balmy months ahead, pests also begin stirring. In fact, Orkin branches in Georgia and Florida reported subterranean termite swarms in late February, marking the onset of pre-spring pest activity in the South.

“Georgia and Florida experienced an unusually cold winter,” said Matt Peterson, Orkin Southeast Division technical services manager. “Recent snow and rain keep termites out of sight and mind for most homeowners, but we have already seen temperature spikes trigger termite swarms in cities throughout our region.”

It may be hard for people to believe termites can endure the cold, but Peterson says these 250-million-year-old insects know how to survive and are actually active year-round. “Rising temperatures turn the excess rain, snow and ice that have accumulated in the Southeast into perfect moisture conditions for subterranean termites—just in time for spring.”

Subterranean termites, which live underground in the soil, are the most widespread and destructive group of termites in the U.S., according to University of Georgia entomologist Dan Suiter, Ph.D. Because they thrive in humid climates with temperatures above 60 degrees, these termites are most common in the South and Southeast. Subterranean termites are typically most active in April, but homeowners can begin to see swarms as early as February.

Orkin’s Orlando branch manager, Todd Kemp, said, “If seeing is believing, homeowners can look for common warning signs—mud tubes, swarming termites and piles of discarded wings.” He explained that subterranean termites build mud tubes as protective bridges between their colonies and the wood they feed on. When temperatures spike, termites often swarm inside the home before quickly moving outdoors in search of food and water. Many shed their wings after taking flight, forming large piles in and around homes.

Kemp warned that homeowners should not dismiss these warning signs or assume the insects are flying ants, a common misperception based on appearance, given the destructive capabilities of termites. According to the National Pest Management Association, termites cause more than $5 billion in damage every year in the United States.

Peterson urged homeowners to remember that termite activity and damage can be subtle. Some signs—like termite damage in crawl spaces—are more difficult to see and can require a professional termite inspection. Also, swarms can occur in seasons other than spring. In fact, drywood termites, which do not need moisture from the soil to survive, typically peak in May and June. Peterson says drywood termites represent 80 percent of Orkin’s termite business in South Florida and can be seen as early as May.

To learn more about termites, visit our Termites Pest Page.

About Orkin, LLC

Founded in 1901, Atlanta-based Orkin is an industry leader in essential pest control services and protection against termite damage, rodents and insects in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Central America, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Asia and the Mediterranean. With more than 400 locations, Orkin’s almost 8,000 employees serve approximately 1.7 million customers. The company serves homeowners and numerous industries including food and beverage processing, foodservice, hospitality, healthcare, retail, warehousing, property/ facilities management, schools and institutions. Orkin is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rollins, Inc. (NYSE: ROL).

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