Hatch Out

IMG_7530The alates, or reproductives, of a termite colony, swarming in advance of flight. These “hatch-outs” fill the air with these four-winged, weakly fluttering critters. Keep your mouth closed…

The alates are one of three castes in a termite colony, the others being workers and soldiers. But they’re not ants (Hymenoptera), they’re in the same order as roaches (Blattodea). Mated alates will lose their wings after these nuptial flights and become queen and king of a new colony. Of course, nobody living in a wooden home likes termites, but in the woods they are a vital component.

Such events can attract a mixed flock of birds scrambling to gobbled up the termites. These can be spectacular, with birds normally found much high up in the canopy at eye-level or below.

2 Responses to “Hatch Out”

  1. 1 Sally May 17, 2016 at 11:26 am

    Holy smackers! That’s a lot of potential termite colonies. We don’t have termites but carpenter ants form in similar swarms. They’re about an inch long (including wings) and if you’re standing near dead wood when they fly you’re in for a Hitchcock’s “Birds” moment!

  2. 2 Shannon May 22, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Great pic and post. A swarm of termites is where we spotted several migrants on a recent bird outing. An all-you-can-eat buffet!

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