[Tweeters] Termite Flight

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Tue Sep 3 07:40:30 PDT 2013

One of my favorite rites of September is the emergence of flying termites. Every September I enjoy seeing them flying about up in the blue sky. And so do many birds since they are a fairly large chunk of insect protein, and being sort of weak flyers, are easy to catch.

Back about 35 years ago, when my ears worked better, I was walking down the tracks at Post Point in Bellingham, when I heard some distinct 'clicks'. I couldn't figure out what was making the sound till I looked up: gull's snapping up flying termites, just overhead.

Just the word 'termite' often brings up major paranoia in the typical homeowner. I once listened to a call-in show about insects on KUOW, and about three-quarters of the questions were from people wanting to know how to kill what bug it was that they were seeing. That's not nice. That's getting down on bugs!

As far as I know, most of the flying termites I'm seeing are Dampwood Termites, which feed on rotting wood underground. If, in particular, you are are a wetside Washingtoonian, you probably know that we have no shortage of wet rotting wood around here. If not for termites, we might be buried in the stuff!

Yesterday I saw my first 'emergence' of these termites in Everett. I was tired after a very long day doing something I'm capable of, but not very good at (carpentry). It was near dusk, and I was walking across the alley to a garage, when I noticed the long lawn grass moving in a strange way, like a weird wind was blowing it. Being calm out, I took a closer look - a two foot square spot was swarming with dozens of emerging winged termites. Cool! These are kings and queens that will fly out and about, pair up, and find their own nice little home plot of rotting wood.

I was leaving to go home, and driving down the street , about a block away, I noticed a small street tree with a strange glittering aura backlit by the western sky - hundred's of emerging termites in flight. Somebody is going to be eating good up there in the sky sometime soon.

Jeff Gibson

in the Dampwoods of

Everett Wa

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