The most visible sign of a termite infestation is the production of winged reproductive termites called swarmers. Thousands of winged termites emerge from the colony in the spring months seeking mates and places to start a new colony. Most of the swarming termites do not survive the event because predators like birds or lizards feast on the swarm or they do not find a suitable place to begin a new colony. In order for a recently mated king and queen termite to start a new colony, they must locate an adequate location that offers moisture, a cellulose food source and soil. Because of these prerequisites, most swarming termites inside a home do not spread the infestation, but do serve as an important warning sign that the structure is infested.
To the untrained eye, winged termites can sometimes be mistaken for flying ants. Superficially, flying ants and winged termites may look similar, but there are three easy ways to tell the two pests apart. First, termites can be differentiated from ants by the shape of their bodies. Ants and termites, like all insects have three body parts - head, thorax and abdomen. Unlike termites, ants have a distinct waist-like division between the thorax and abdomen. Termites have a broad waist. Another way to distinguish between ants and termites is to take a close look at the antennae, but ants have bent, or "elbowed" antennae. Wing shape is the 3rd and final way to gell a winged termite from a flying ant. All four wings on a termite are the same size, while the front wings of ants are larger than the hind wings.
Even though swarming termites represent an easy way to determine an active infestation of termites, homeowners shouldn't be lulled into thinking that the structure is free of termites just because there's no sign of a swarm. Termite colonies typically don't swarm during the first few years of their existence while the population grows. Alternatively, swarms may occur, but may happen outdoors, or in other areas where they remain undetected.
If you observe winged insects or suspect termites may be present inside or around your home, contact us immediately for a thorough inspection. In fact, it is a good practice to have an annual inspection of your property. Call today to request a quote.
February 6, 2015
April Showers Bring May...Pests?
Weather can dramatically influence the number and kinds of pests that enter a structure. Extreme heat and dry weather in the summer can cause ants to seek water and cooler environments indoors. In the winter pests like the elder bugs and cluster flies seek warm structures to over winter. Rainy springtime weather is no different. Warmer temperatures and wet weather can cause pests to move from their outdoor locations into structures.
Many outdoor insect invaders, including ants, spend much of the winter in sheltered locations in the soil and under rocks, logs and mulch. Spending the winter underneath insulated items or below the frost line in soil can help entire colonies to survive cold temperatures. When the weather warms and spring showers begin, saturated soil forces many of these pests out of their hiding places in search of drier places to nest.
Ants are especially likely to enter homes following heavy rain. In addition to seeking higher ground, ants may be forced indoors to forage for food when the wet secretions of honeydew producing insects like aphids and scale insects is washed away during heavy rain. Honeydew is an important food source for many ant species. Without their primary food source present outdoors, ants may come indoors in search of food.
One of the best ways to keep these opportunistic pests from entering your house is to seal all cracks and crevices around windows, doors, and utility penetrations. Pest-proofing your home is one of the best ways to keep pests out this spring.
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