Termite Emergence

by on August 22, 2008

 
Illustration by Erin Hunter.
 

 

Things begin rumbling about in the fall. Storm clouds pile up along the outer Coast Ranges, the winds shift and come out of the south, days get shorter, and the air gets colder. October days might often be sunny and warm, and the hills are the brownest and driest they’ll be all year, but we all know what’s coming: the rainy season.

Underground, the termites know it too. Termites live mostly underground (or in our walls!) but as winter approaches, they grow wings and take to the air in droves to form new colonies. Millions of drones (males) and virgin queens, all with glossy, untested wings, burst from their subterranean lairs in nuptial flights to birth break-off colonies.

Be on the lookout for tell-tale signs that termites are on the move: dragonflies darting in tightly-controlled maneuvers over a clearing, or jays and sparrows swooping down to snatch emerging termites on the wing. They make a miniscule but nutritious in-flight meal. Tiny earthen chimneys scattered around the ground are remnants of their launch pads. Look for diminutive gossamer wings littered over the ground as the emerging insects shed their temporary flight gear for life underground. No need to find a special park for this event: Termite emergence happens throughout the Bay Area, in backyards, parking lots, and fields, and along roadsides.

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