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UC Master Gardeners, SLO County, a resource for gardeners
by Naeem
on February 12, 2019 at 2:25 AM
I run a pest control company in Pakistan. I wanted to ask are there any seasonal variation in subterranean termites during winters and summer? I have written a recent blogpost about it also but haven't got any concrete answers. Maybe you can help me out on that.
Reply by Maria Murrietta
on February 14, 2019 at 11:34 AM
Hello Naeem, thank you for the question.  
Before replying to your question, it’s important to stress that we cannot be certain that our local species occurs in your region. You may have a relative, but that species will likely have different behaviors.  
With that, the only obvious seasonal behavior of our local subterranean termite is the swarming of the reproductives. This occurs usually in the fall after the first significant rain. The day after the rain, usually during a sunny spell, the reproductives will swarm from a hole in the ground for 20 minutes to an hour, likely depending on how large the colony is. Mating soon takes place and the couple will look for wood, or cellulose, that is in contact with moist soil and enter the ground under that material. The amount of wood or cellulose available probably determines whether or not the new colony is successful. Now, in established colonies, the main portion of the colony is in the ground, and workers foray up into the structure on a 24-hour basis. Another possible seasonal activity is if the wooden structure becomes very hot during summer months then perhaps the workers will avoid the heat of the day by leaving the structure before it gets too hot or will stay in the ground until the structure cools down. I suspect this does occur though I have not heard any of our local pest control operators refer to its occurrence. The same behavior is suspected for subfreezing temperatures. Structures that are well insulated may not experience this activity. The fact that the majority of the colony and the queen are in the soil is the reason the subterranean termite is treated by soil injection or bait stations. Fumigation of the structure is not effective for this termite.  
Thanks again and best of luck.
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