The Swarmers: Termites and Ants

Inside swarming insects are normally ants and termites. Other flying insects may appear in your house, but more on an individual basis like lady bugs, Brown Marmorated Stink bugs, wasps and mosquitos. But inside swarms indicate an active termite or ant colony infestation that must be taken care of. Swarms appear during the spring mating stage of these normally wingless insects.

By June 1st, most termites have already swarmed. Ants can swarm in both in the spring or fall, and these swarms gather predominately around windows and other sources of natural light.

If you don’t know the difference between flying ants and termites are, here are a couple ways to tell the difference. Wings and antennae tell the difference. Winged ants (both large and small) and termites both have two wings on each side of their body.

Termites have all (4) wings of equal length.

Ants have the (2) front wings of equal length, and the (2) back wings are shorter

Termite antennae are straight.

Ant antennae are elbow shaped.

Many of us have experienced infestations of different levels during our lives. They might be at our home or at our business. Open windows, doors, large overhead shipping dock doors, loosely sealing sliding doors can all provide entry points for insects to come in and find a suitable location to nest and multiply. Treating these infestations works but greater success results from minimizing the entry points.

Insects also need moisture for survival so look for areas that are perpetually damp or wet. This could include dripping faucets, condensation around air conditioning units and climate control units, and roof leaks, flashing leaks, caulking failures around wall openings like windows, vents, air intakes, and skylights.

In industrial buildings, incoming freight or product can come into a building with pallets made from contaminated, and infested wood components.

Ants are attracted to damp or wet wood. Termites actually nest in surrounding damp dirt but venture out for food in damp media and wood. This extraction of wood weakens structures and can result in high repair costs.

Termites and ants most often work in hidden areas, signs of termites are damage to wood are termite tunnels on the surface of walls, ants can excavate soil or sand from beneath slabs insulation behind walls.

But there are insects that can leave visible larger holes in wood, and these aren’t ants or termites. These would be carpenter bees. These are bees that can be seen hovering around wooden structures like a hummingbird or mini-helicopter. They are watching over their specific hole where they’ve burrowed and deposited an egg into a nearly perfect round hole, and are protecting that opening. The burrowed tunnel goes straight in about ½” to ¾” and then turns typically to one side. Treatments are specific, so discuss with your preferred pest control contractor.

What about ants and termites outside your home? Does this automatically mean they are inside when you see them outside? Sometimes people see termites in mulch products around the structures, but termites don’t survive that well in mulch alone since they need dirt to nest in. It’s just that mulch lays on top of dirt in close proximity. But if there is a perimeter treatment program in place, there shouldn’t be any issues. Hooper Pest Control recognizes the need to treat perimeters as a priority. This provides a chemical barrier heading off the ants or termites before they come in.

Hooper also treats with a “non-repellant” chemical; termites that cross this barrier transfer the material to other termites it comes in contact with. They end up taking the chemical back down into the nest and begin to eliminate the colony from the inside. Colony elimination is three months or less, and lasts for ten plus years.