Asian Glossy Starlings catching alate termites

Sun Chong Hong’s video of the Asian Glossy Starlings (Aplonis panayensis) darting about the sparse canopy of what looks like a young albizia tree (Paraserianthes falcataria) was recorded on a hot and humid evening of 17th April 2010. Hos account is given below:

“I think there was no rain before and after, though I am unable to recall with 100% certainty. I only realised the Yellow Vented Bulbuls’ (Pycnonotus goiavier) presence when I viewed the video after I transferred it to the pc.

“From my experience of having to close windows and doors when alate termites and ants invade my home, termites do swarm on hot weather in the evening, usually but not necessarily always after rain. I have googled for swarming facts which seemed to support my experience. Perhaps our friends here can share their experiences.

“It didn’t look like the starlings were exhibiting courtship behaviour, so my conclusion under the circumstances was that the starlings were taking the alates, even though they were too small to be seen.”

Jeremy Lee adds his input: “I wear a watch with barometer measurements, and it is common knowledge for those who have studied some basic meteorology that a sudden drop of atmospheric pressure precedes a thunderstorm. Most termite swarms do so before the rain, when they first detect that significant drop in pressure. No point of them running out only to get pounded by rain. They need to come out and fly and make a run for it and hopefully when the rain hits, they would have covered some distance and the rains would deter the birds from continuing the feast so that at least some would make it. That is my observation so far these years on termite swarming.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS adds: “I am not an entomologist but often I have seen the flying termites/ants swarm in the evenings after first a hot day and second a heavy downpour. I always assumed that the heavy rain flooded their homes forcing them to fly out. But that’s just a lame assumption on my part with no evidence. It could be that these conditions are triggers to swarm for mating. Sun CH may be right about no rain required every time, as our memories tend to be selective without documentation (especially when memory ennergrams are decaying with age).”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.