Ever think about the tiny tubes that termites use to travel back and forth? Over time some tunnels can get pretty big and thick but still if you think about swarms of termites which can be in the thousands of winged alates and the relatively small size of the tunnels they use, just how can so many swarmers pour out of a wall if they are all using such a small path?
Termites often solve this problem by constructing what is called a ‘swarm castle.’ This is an area specially built for the needs of the alates and can be very big. (big for a little bug barely a 1/4 inch long that is) I’ve seen castles that were over 4 feet wide. Winged termites are fragile like all termites are and their wings are even more delicate. The slightest snag can tear off a wing or damage it and jeopardize the entire swarming process so the staging area where these reproductive’s are waiting to come pouring out of your wall needs to accommodate them.
Although the castle may be in or near a feeding zone which tends to be pretty messy, the actual spot where workers have prepared for the winged termites to gather is very smooth and free from debris. Almost as if someone sanded the zone the swarmers are ‘herded’ to the area where they may spend a week or more waiting for the right moment when the ‘go signal’ is given. This is a time of hurried activity as workers prod the alates toward the exit holes and the termites take flight. Any rough spots or damage on this runway could spell disaster and the already low number of winged termites who’ll complete the mating process will decrease. After the swarm is over feeding can begin on the site if they wish but more over I find swarm castles abandoned and left alone.
These castles are most often behind your drywall or siding so you don’t get the chance to see them everyday. I found just such a castle and put together a short video presentation so you can see just what a swarm castle looks like and get an idea of how the process works and understand why so many termites can come out of your wall almost all at once. I hope you enjoy it and if you do, why not retweet it or share the video with your friends on Facebook. I’ll bet most of them haven’t seen one either and you’ll look the the smart one sharing such a cool find.