Why Do Insects Swarm?

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Termites, bees, flies: A whole range of different types of insect swarm -- and swarms can be a problem for people. But why? 

 

Why Insects Swarm 

Swarm of locusts

 

Insects swarm for a few different reasons: 

 

  • Reproduction- Insects like termites and ants will sometimes swarm because they are looking to reproduce with other colonies; in this case, a large group of the reproductive castes of insects will swarm. Interestingly, insects often use environmental triggers like temperature, wind speed, relative humidity and day length to determine when they will swarm for reproductive purposes; this is because one colony does not know when another is near, but they are biological conditioned to swarm in similar environments to increase the chances of finding a mate outside their own colony.

  • Defense- Some insects, particularly stinging insects, will swarm when they feel that they need to defend their nest. This usually requires some sort of irritation near the nest itself, but interestingly, honey bees can be triggered to swarm and attack when farther from the nest. Honey bees die after only one sting, but when they die they release a pheromone that other honey bees can pick up on. This pheromone can cause honey bees to swarm when detected, so if you are stung by a honey bee, look out!

  • Migration- Insects will also travel in swarms when they are migrating. While many common pests are seasonal pests and don’t migrate en masse, insects like butterflies and moths, dragonflies, beetles and grasshoppers will travel sometimes hundreds of miles in large swarms to find warmer regions for the winter.

 

Insects That Swarm 

Swarm of subterranean termites

So which insects specifically swarm? We mentioned many of them above, but let’s list it out to make it easy to remember: 

  • Some bees and wasps 
  • Termites 
  • Gnats
  • Ants
  • Mosquitoes 
  • Locusts 
  • Butterflies 
  • Mayflies
  • Moths 
  • Dragonflies 
  • Beetles 
  • Grasshoppers

And that’s just a shortlist of all the different types of insects that swarm in one way or the other. 

 

When Do Insects Swarm?

 

Insects swarm when the weather starts to warm up, and in New York that means springtime -- and the size of those swarms can number in the thousands.

 

Why Insect Swarming Can Be a Problem 

Swarm of bees

While insect swarming is a natural part of insect behavior, it can cause problems for humans. When insects swarm, they can sometimes find their way into homes or on properties, and while a swarm of butterflies settling in on your property is no big deal, it’s a totally different story if you’re dealing with a swarm of termites or mosquitoes. 

 

That’s where we come in. At Thomas Pest Services, we offer an Exterior Pest Guard program that is focused on securing your home from potential pest invaders, which is especially important during swarming season. Just contact us with your problem and we’ll help take care of your pest concerns ASAP.


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