NEW ORLEANS — The swarm has arrived. There are millions of six-legged, winged residents we all wish would keep their social distance.
Formosan subterranean termites began swarming the New Orleans area Tuesday night, seen in the glow of streetlights and illuminated porches all over town.
Slidell Police even posted to their Facebook page, saying the bugs are "wanted for several counts of home invasion."
And they're keeping the phones tied up at Terminix, where Joe Martin works as an Entomologist.
"New Orleans possibly has the worst Formosan termite population in the entire world," said Martin.
He said a swarming colony means the colony is five or seven years old. The insects we see are young kings and queens seeking to start a new colony.
They're not necessarily looking to eat your house, at least not right away. This time of year, they're looking to move in.
"So we're all going to see swarming termites, that's normal. Are we going to see a few in our house? Yes, that's normal. They're going to get in very small cracks and crevices into our house. If we start seeing hundreds in your house, it's probably time to give someone a call to come take a look," said Martin.
But he, and other experts, recommend keeping porch lights on and letting the swarm do its thing. That way, you can take a walk around the slab of your home and check for places where the termites might try to move in or already be living.
"We want to protect our houses. And when we're all home right now, this is a great opportunity to say 'hey, I'm sitting on the porch, the termites are swarming. Let me take a walk around my house. Let's try to find these termites,'" said Martin. "Things like a constant leak. Things like firewood stacked up against your house with maybe a little bit of moisture, mulch stacked up."
Experts said we'll see more swarms in the coming weeks, often after a good rain. Some believe it's because they prefer to mate in wet conditions.
The Formosans are so aggressive, they've been called "super termites." A mature colony can eat 13 ounces of wood in a day, which is fast enough to eat a house in about three months.