5 Reasons Why Termites Come Out At Night (How To Stop Them)
When out at night, you may see many creepy crawlies out and about. From spiders to ants, it seems like most bugs come out at night to play. With this in mind, do termites come out at night – and what are some reasons they may do so?
Termites often come out at night when it is humid and there are lights present nearby. Factors such as water, food, and heat sources increase nocturnal termite activity. If you see termites at night, you should contact a pest control professional for an inspection.
If you are simply confused about why termites near you are coming out at night, keep reading for more information, and some tips you can use to get rid of them for good!
Why Are Termites Such A Bad Thing?
Since they are a type of uncommon pest, many people don’t know why termites are even bad pests.
Don’t let them fool you, though – they can cause QUITE the problems to your home and structure.
Termites Pose A Risk To Buildings
According to the University Of Nebraska-Lincoln, regular “worker” termites can come out for a variety of reasons and can cause damage to your house, your shed, or any other wooden structures.
What is even more troublesome is many termites enter your home through small cracks and holes, meaning they could cause damage before you even realize it.
In addition, because they can get in without you knowing, they pose a problem of causing long-term damage to your house or other wooden structures.
If you suspect termites may get into something like your house, act on it quickly to reduce potential negatives to your property!
Overall however, termites literally cause billions of dollars in damage ANNUALLY in the United States alone.
Termites Can Easily Cause Other Infestations
On top of your original termite problem, their presence may also pose a risk of introducing many other pests.
Other common bugs such as ants, beetles, spiders, and dragonflies are all-natural predators of termites. If these predators find termites in your home, you may have multiple infestations to deal with.
You can learn more about the places where termites live in our in-depth guide!
Reasons Termites Are Attracted To Your Home
If you are seeing an abundance of termites near your home, chances are they are attracted to something within it.
Luckily, like most other bugs, termites are attracted to the basics: food, shelter, water, etc.
Food Sources Are Attracting Termites
As with most pests, termites are attracted to food sources as a means of survival. If there are enough sources of food around, it may even incline them to mate.
According to most sources, termites eat things such as wood, drywall, plant material, and even insulation. This means that most buildings are a beacon for termite infestation.
These food sources are one of the ways that termites spread from house to house!
Termites Like Heat Sources
If your house is warm, termites may also be attracted to that. Termites usually prefer mild to warm temperatures, however warmer temps (along with some other factors) can enable them to start reproducing.
During the winter months, heat sources become even more attractive to termites, especially when outside temperatures drop.
5 Reasons Termites Come Out At Night
Now that we have discussed why termites cause problems, and why they may be attracted to your house, we can get down to why they are coming out at night in the first place.
Depending on the type of termites, these reasons may change or be negated altogether. However, the following list covers some of the most common explanations for their nocturnal activity.
1. Termites Come Out To Reproduce
In essence, the main reason termites come out at night is reproduction. When the other factors are right for reproduction, mass amounts of termites come out and congregate in certain areas outside.
These groups are called swarms and can honestly be overwhelming to an area.
According to the NC State Extension, specialized termites known as swarmers come out during these events. They are usually smaller and weaker than worker termites and were specifically bred for reproduction.
After these big swarms are established in an area, swarmers pair into male and female couples. These couples leave the area to reproduce, and eventually, the swarm should dissipate.
Unfortunately, some swarmers cannot find a partner, or simply succumb to other factors, and they die soon after. If you find lots of small termites near your windowsills or light posts outside, there may have been a recent swarm nearby.
2. Termites Come Out When It Is Humid and Warm
As mentioned earlier, humid and warm temperatures are very attractive to termites, because they signal it is a safe time for them to come out and reproduce. During the spring and summer months, when it warms up and stays humid at night, termites may be inclined to come out.
Luckily, as the sun comes up and dries out the humidity, the termites usually leave. This means that most night swarms only last for a few hours.
3. The Presence Of Other Termites Can Attract More Termites
Due to their hive mindset, having some termites around makes it more likely for others to come.
In other words, termites mainly swarm at night for reproduction, so when a swarm begins, hundreds of other termites soon join.
This process forms a positive feedback loop, where the presence of termites increases the attractive forces, and simply causes more to join in.
4. Termites Come Out To Find Food And Establish Colonies
One other factor that may draw out termites at night is food and shelter. Some termites may come out to find additional sources of food to bring back to their home. Additionally, groups of termites may go out at night to look for new locations to colonize.
Since your house is usually warmer than outside and has sources of light, these searching termites can often find their way to you.
Termites will usually come out in search of food and shelter, especially when there are signs of distress near their original colonies. For instance, if you are actively trying to remove them from your house, they may come out at night searching for a new source of food and places to live.
5. Rainfall Can Attract Termites To Come Out At Night
Another factor that may attract termites to come out is rainfall. Rainfall is usually a factor that supports the growth of vegetation that termites can live in and eat. For this reason, termites appear shortly after a rainfall.
Rain and warm weather are also associated with the spring and summer months, which are the peak times for termites to reproduce.
One last reason rainfall can cause termites to come out at night is that it can increase and stabilize the humidity in an area, which is another attractant for most termites.
Rain may also wash away insecticides and pesticides, making it even easier for termites to get through to your home.
How To Tell If Termites Are Active In Your Home
As mentioned, termites in your home can be dangerous, as they can cause damage without you knowing.
According to Mississippi State University, many things can signify termite activity, such as droppings, dead swarmers, and construction.
Termites Droppings Are A Telltale Sign Of Termites
When termites make themselves comfortable in your home, they will eventually leave droppings all over the place. In most cases, termites don’t stray too far from home, so the droppings should be relatively close to where they are building a colony.
In general, termite droppings are usually smaller than salt crystals, but bigger than coffee grounds, and they range from tan to dark brown.
Leftover Swarmer Termites Show Recent Reproductive Activity
As you now know, specialized swarmer termites can congregate in big groups during times of reproduction. These swarmers don’t have a very long lifespan. They can’t fly well, and they often perish in the process of reproduction.
So, if you find leftover swarmers near your windows and doors, it could be a sign there was a recent swarm. Recent swarm activity means that termites most likely have already formed a colony, and may live in or near your house.
Termite Structures Can Also Be A Sign Of Their Presence
Even though termites are well known for destroying man-made structures such as houses and sheds, they actually can build structures of their one. In most cases, these termite structures are light tan and look like piles of mud.
Termites usually build these structures to cover up cracks in a wall and to protect important parts of their colony.
According to Mississippi State University, usually, these structures are small tubes that can run along the foundation, wooden boards, and even plumbing.
How To Stop Termites From Coming Out At Night
Ok… with all of this information about the potential damage termites can cause, it can honestly be overwhelming to know what you should do. Luckily, there are a few common remedies that people believe are pretty effective for getting rid of these pests.
Use Strong Scents To Repel Termites
One of the most common fixes to any pest problem is the use of scent. Certain scents, such as lemon, pepper, lavender, and rosemary, are well known to repel a plethora of pests, including termites!
While some companies make scent sprays you can use, you can also try to use straight-up essential oils. Essential oils are great because they are cost-effective, relatively tidy, and you can choose the strength of your scent.
MAJESTIC PURE Peppermint Essential Oil and MAJESTIC PURE Cedarwood Essential oil are two great options you can use as termite repellent.
To use essential oils, you can simply place a few drops in the areas you wish to repel termites from. If you are looking to keep things tidier, you can also try to use cotton balls that are soaked in the oil.
This is a preventative strategy, so if you see termites, make sure you call a professional immediately. Ultimately, it can be subject to user error quite a bit so don’t rely on JUST this for something like termites which are so so small.
You can also use something like Mighty Mint’s Gallon Spray which is a natural mixture containing pepperment oil that is used as a general pest repellent!
Termite Spray Is A Great Final Step
One last option you can try at home is over-the-counter termite spray. These sprays usually are formulated to be used at the base of your home’s foundation where termites are more likely to be found like Spractacide Termite Spray.
Again however, if you are seeing termites, you should have a professional come and inspect the extent of the damage. Speaking of which…
Contact A Pest Professional For Help
If all else fails, contacting a pest professional is your best option. Heck, contact a professional when you first suspect that you have an infestation.
Pest experts have a wealth of knowledge at their disposal that they can use to eradicate and solve your pest issues. Not to mention, pest professionals are the safest and most guaranteed option for pest removal.
If you don’t have enough in your budget to hire a pest expert, or you simply want to solve the problem yourself, you can always call one and ask for some tips! In most cases, pest experts would be happy to give you a tip or two to help you solve your pest problems.
Luckily, we have a really helpful pest professional partner network on our website! You don’t have to use that to locate someone near you, but just make sure that you find someone local!
Wrapping Things Up!
In the end, termites can be a tricky foe to deal with. They are numerous, they can reproduce quickly, they cause destruction, and worst of all, they are sneaky quiet.
For these reasons, termites are one of the most feared pests, especially since they sneak in without us knowing and cause destruction for years.
There are a few major factors that can attract termites to your house, such as food, water, heat, and light. Additionally, termites are known to come out at night, and most people agree that this is for reproduction.
Some factors which attract them out at night include recent rainfall, humidity, warmth, and light.
Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to get rid of termites for good. Some examples include using powerful scents, repellents, sprays, and even calling a pest professional.
In the end, not every fix will work for you, but hopefully, you can find one that remedies your issues!
Verma, M., Sharma, S., & Prasad, R. (2009). Biological alternatives for termite control: A review. International Biodeterioration & Biodegradation, 63(8), 959-972.
Su, N. Y. (2002). Novel technologies for subterranean termite control. Sociobiology, 40(1), 95-102.
Noirot, C., & Darlington, J. P. (2000). Termite nests: architecture, regulation, and defence. In Termites: evolution, sociality, symbioses, ecology (pp. 121-139). Springer, Dordrecht.
Eisner, T., Kriston, I., & Aneshansley, D. J. (1976). Defensive behavior of a termite (Nasutitermes exitiosus). Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 1(1), 83-125.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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