Temperatures are rising and Spring is in full bloom. This of course means so are insects and insect populations, including a variety of flying insects. The past couple of weeks, we have received numerous calls from concerned customers and non-customers about the presence of flying insects that they fear may be termites. This time of year it is very common for termites to “swarm” during the day as their mating season is also in full bloom. They fly out in great numbers and are drawn to light colored objects or light-reflecting windows. Oftentimes, this is why we find them on our decks or patios where large windows receive vast amounts of sunlight. This doesn’t necessarily mean there is an immediate cause for concern at your home, as they are most likely coming from a source away from the home, i.e. an old tree stump or some fallen limbs in the woods. However, it is an indication that there are colonies present in your area, and responsible homeowners should make sure they are doing the necessary things in and around their home to protect themselves from an infestation. Along with maintaining a termite contract with a licensed company like Mr. Bugg’s, homeowners should be making sure to eliminate conditions around the home that could be conducive to a termite infestation. This includes, but is not limited to, keeping excess moisture away from foundation walls, removing stacked lumber or debris away from foundation walls, and removing any cellulose debris from under crawl spaces. This along with proper home maintenance can help minimize the chances of a termite infestation.
But let’s say that you do experience flying insects that you fear may be termite swarmers….the question becomes, how do you tell which one is which? To an untrained eye, it can be very difficult to discern the difference between the two, however, there are distinct characteristics that homeowners can look for to correctly identify what they are seeing. Below are three different features to look for that will help homeowners identify if the insect is an ant or a termite.
The first distinguishing feature and perhaps the most obvious at first glance is the length of the wings. The wings of a swarming ant will be slightly, if at all, longer than the body while the wings of a swarming termite will be considerably longer than the body. The wings on a termite typically lay flat down the back of the termite when they land, one on top of the other, giving the appearance of just one set of wings when, in fact, they actually have two sets. In contrast, the ants wings will often times form a “v” shape, and each wing is clearly identifiable.
The second feature that will assist in providing a positive identification between a swarming ant and a swarming termite is the “waist line”. A swarming ant will have the same “pinched” waist that a non-swarming ant has while a swarming termite will have a consistent and broad body outline.
The final feature useful in distinguishing a swarming ant from a swarming termite is the antennae. An antenna of a swarming ant will be bent or elbowed, while the antenna of a swarming termite will be straight and beaded. This may take a magnifying glass to see clearly, but it can help if you’re still unsure after comparing the first two features.
Hopefully, this will prove to be useful information if you are attempting to identify a flying insect. If internet pictures are used to assist with identification, I would caution our readers to make sure the pictures are from knowledgeable sources. Many times the label associated with the picture may not be accurate. When in doubt, it’s always best to collect a sample when possible and have your termite company make a correct identification.
If you or someone you know is experiencing a problem with swarming ants, swarming termites, or any other pest issue, please contact Mr. Bugg’s Pest Patrol today for a FREE evaluation.