Termite Light Traps

Termites may leave a number of signs that they have infested a home, some of which may be more visible than others. In areas of the country where termites are prevalent, scientists and local governments may conduct studies to identify termite activity and distribution even when there are no signs.

In the case of the highly aggressive Formosan termite – a species of subterranean termite – proactive monitoring for signs of infestations can help control or prevent damage in neighborhoods where activity is suspected.

Termite Light Traps
While termites typically shy away from light, swarming termites seek light. Because the Formosan termite is one of the rare species that swarms at night, light traps are effective for performing field surveys.

Light traps have solar-powered lights that shine on a sticky trap. Insects that are attracted to the light will approach the trap and then get stuck on the sticky paper. After a scheduled period of time, the trap operator (typically an insect scientist called an entomologist) will check the trap to identify any insects that have been trapped. If any of the insects are termites, the entomologist will identify them and record their location.

Are Termite Light Traps Effective for Homeowners?
Field surveys are not a cost-effective measure for homeowners to monitor activity. Rather, they are used by local governments that want to track Formosan termite activity in a large area.

Formosan termites invade new areas rapidly and cause more damage than other species of termites due to their larger colony size. In response to this threat to homes, some local governments have begun Formosan termite programs to suppress these pests on a large scale. For example, government agencies, universities, chemical companies, pest control companies and real estate interests joined together to form Operation Full Stop, a New Orleans-based program researching Formosan termite prevention and control.

If you live in an area where Formosan termites have established colonies, you can contact your local extension service to see if there is a Formosan termite research program in your area.

Although using light for termites is not the best way to attract termites and protect your home, there are other termite control approaches that can be effective on a per home basis. By teaming up with a pest control professional, you can determine areas of past or present infestation and reduce conditions conducive to future infestation. Through annual inspections by a qualified specialist, you also can receive expert help in monitoring and identifying activity.