The dispersal flight activity (“swarming”) of two invasive subterranean termite species, Coptotermes gestroi (Wasmann) and Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, was monitored in metropolitan southeastern Florida, where both species are now sympatric and major structural pests. Historical records of alates collected in the area showed that the two species have distinct peaks of flight activity, from mid-February to late April for C. gestroi, and from early April to late June for C. formosanus. However, an overlap of the two dispersal flight seasons has been observed since at least 2005. The daily monitoring of dispersal flight events in southeastern Florida in 2014, 2015, and 2016 confirmed that simultaneous flights occurred several times each year. In addition, environmental conditions for favorable flights were identified, and it was established that low temperature was the primary factor inhibiting both species from dispersal flights, while all other factors had little impact on the occurrence of major dispersal flight events. However, both species shared similar temperature requirements for favorable dispersal flight conditions despite distinct peaks of activity over time. The analysis of sex ratios and average weights of the alates suggests that intrinsic colony factors are important for the timing of the maturation of alates, and that once a cohort of individuals is ready to disperse, a flight may occur as soon as the environmental conditions are favorable.
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Vol. 110 • No. 4