Termites

Every year termites begin to swarm in south Louisiana as summer approaches.

On just the second day of May, homeowners in south Louisiana are already reporting swarms of Formosan subterranean termites.

The winged insects, called alates at this stage, typically swarm to mate and reproduce during early May.

And while this year's increasingly balmy spring temperatures may have spurred a few early swarms, experts say that's nothing out of the ordinary.

The largest swarms typically take place in the first two weeks of May, and major swarms can recur every eight to 10 days until the season ends, usually in mid- to late June, Dennis Ring, an entomologist with the LSU AgCenter, told The Advocate last year.

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Formosans, which are native to East Asia, were introduced to the U.S. mainland in the 1940s and 1950s, when military ships carrying wooden crates across the Pacific Ocean docked at naval bases across the southern United States, including Camp Leroy Johnson, at what is now the University of New Orleans’ East Campus, and on the West Bank, at the Algiers Naval Support Activity.

That method of transport isn’t so different from how the termites travel today, often making their way across parish and state lines burrowed in lumber and infested wooden railroad stakes.

Because the termites flourish in warmer weather with a certain level of humidity, they are mainly found across the American South, in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and some parts of North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee. Formosans are also found in Hawaii, where they were introduced much earlier than on the U.S. mainland.

New Orleans, which was one of the main introduction sites, remains one of the most heavily infested areas in the state.