'Tis the season to be on the lookout for Formosan termite swarmers. Over four seasons of monitoring Formosan termites in the Dallas area suggests that the north Texas swarming season ranges from mid-May to mid-June. Since 1999 my lab has documented Formosan termites from approximately 20 sites in north Texas. Most of these sites seem to be associated with the transport and use of railroad cross-ties as landscaping timbers.
I am always glad to receive reports of suspected Formosan termites, but this year I am especially interested. Our office, in cooperation with Dr. Roger Gold's lab in College Station, is contracting this summer with the Texas Department of Agriculture to map out active Formosan termites sites throughout Texas. To do this, we are returning to sites where we have previously collected this termite and placing out both light traps and ground monitoring stations. We want to do a better job of identifying infested areas, and (we hope) determine whether they have spread.
We need your help. If you know of any old or new sites (through specimens), would you consider calling us? Collection information we need includes: specific address, owner, owner’s phone and/or email, and dates and circumstances of collection (including whether the termites were collected indoors or outdoors). If you or your technician do find a new site, we would be very interested to know whether railroad crossties are located on or near the property, or whether the infestation can be traced to some other source.
Formosan termite swarmers (right) are larger and lighter in color than eastern subterranean termites (left). Winged reproductives can be distinguished from drywood termite swarmers by the 2 (instead of 3 or more) thickened veins in the leading edge of the forewings. Formosans fly at night, instead of during the day, like Reticulitermes. If you are in north Texas and see anything remotely like one of these termites, please let us know by calling 972-231-5362 and asking for me or Dr. Charlie Helpert. Any sightings from central, south, or coastal areas of the state should be reported to the Center for Urban and Industrial Entomology in College Station at 979-845-5855. Any specimens collected should be placed in ethyl or rubbing alcohol as soon as possible.
As always, your help is greatly appreciated.
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