I don’t know how widespread this phenomenon is, but in the immediate vicinity of Gracias Lempira we have an annual event: the swarming of the flying termites!
The event happens during the first rain of rainy season, and sometimes reoccurs during the first four or five rains. Even on a year like this one, where there have been unusual rains late in the dry season, the bugs came out on May 15th – the official start of the rainy season.
I’m no specialist in insect life-cycles, but as best I understand it the first rains bring the bugs out of a dry-season dormancy. They come from where ever they’ve been hiding (perhaps the ground?), and fly through the air in thick swarms. I’m pretty sure they mate while flying. As the swarming continues, some of the termites fall to earth, and their wings detach from their bodies. A few hours after the swarm begins, they’re all down on the ground, wingless.
At this point they appear to be teensy black worms with legs. They don’t bite or sting, they don’t damage anything around them, but they are pretty annoying, as you continually find them crawling everywhere – on your bed, in your dinner, on your body (I can’t tell you how many I had to pull out from inside my shirt – how do they even get in there?). Until they all finally die after a few hours, it’s hard to fall asleep because of the continual need to brush crawling bugs off of yourself!
Of course, if you have an enclosed house with screens in the windows, this is all an outdoor phenomenon. Homes in Honduras are rarely built that way, however, and ours is no exception. After the swarming, the inside of our home is coated on every surface with dead bug bodies and disembodied wings. This is not just horizontal surfaces . . . the wings cling to vertical surfaces as well, so we have bug parts hanging all over the walls, too. I am so grateful that this is only a once-a-year event!
Because the first swarming took place last night, today I’m dealing with the aftermath. I’ll write about that tomorrow!