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Weather and Insect Activity

By Chris Williams on May 26, 2011.

Do weather conditions affect insect behavior patterns -The answer is, “Yes.”  Insects respond to weather changes in some interesting ways.  Carpenter ants, for example, don’t like to look for food when days are cold, and rainy.  Warm sunny days and humid nights are ideal for foraging, and large numbers of carpenter ant workers may be seen near nest openings and around trees and shrubs.  Warm weather also triggers carpenter ant swarms.  Large numbers of winged ants may swarm out of hidden ant nests as colonies mature.  Large winged queens along with smaller wasp-like male ants will take advantage of the ideal weather conditions in an effort to form new carpenter ant colonies.  Once mating takes place, queen carpenter ants chew their wings off, and look for a suitable nest site.  Swarming usually takes between 3 and 5 years, or once a colony reaches maturity.

ants-carrying-leavesTermites also use changing weather patterns as triggers for swarming and other activities.  Warming spring sun on the soil and longer days create ideal conditions for swarming.  Worker termites monitor for the perfect conditions; usually a warm morning, high relative humidity.  Once ideal conditions are sensed, alates (swarmers) are moved up and out of the soil, or floor, or wall etc. (Swarmers emerging within a structure stand little chance of survival)  Taking advantage of the moist conditions above ground gives the swarmers a better chance of survival.  Termites feeding within a structure also take advantage of warm soil surface temperatures and use the ambient heat of their bodies to warm he developing colony and swarmers.  Swarms within structures indicate the presence of a mature termite colony.  Large swarms indicate large colonies, but not always large amounts of damage.

Termites can consume wood throughout the year, but generally slow down or stop as temperatures reach 50 degrees F and below.  Eastern Subterranean Termites use seasonal wetness, or other water sources to allow them to work and damage areas that may not be otherwise damp.  Periods of prolonged wet weather and warm conditions favor subterranean termite activity.  Conversely, weather that includes high temperatures, low rainfall, and low humidity do not favor termite activity, and may force termites to withdraw to areas within a structure of more preferable conditions. Both Termites and Carpenter Ants are affected by changes in seasonal and acute weather conditions.

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