Learning About Natural Pest Control

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Swarming Insects: Identifying Flying Ants And Flying Termites

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The sight of swarming black insects near your home may raise your concerns about termites. While they may be termites, they may also be flying ants. Both insects go through a swarm stage and can be difficult to tell apart. Knowing how to tell the difference between the two and what to do if you spot them is important to the safety of your home.

Flying Ants

Many people are confused about exactly what a flying ant is, as they are accustomed to seeing wingless ants. Some even assume that flying ants are a separate species of ants. This is not true. Flying ants come from the same colony of ants as wingless ants. These ants appear after several years when the ant colony has outgrown its location. The ants begin to grow wings in preparation for leaving the colony. When they leave the colony, they may join swarms from nearby ant colonies as they all gather to mate and begin new colonies. Females that mate successfully become new queen ants. The males die after mating, and the mated females disperse to create new colonies. You can identify flying or swarming ants by their body shape. Here's what to look for in flying ants.

  • Antennae – The antennae on ants have an elbow bend.
  • Waist – Ants are shaped more like an hourglass with a slender waist and larger body.
  • Wings – Ants have two pair of wings similar to those of a butterfly. The top pair is larger and wider with a distinct angle on the outer edge. The lower set of wings are smaller. Both sets of wings have rounded edges.

Termites

If you think of termites as white grub-like insects found chewing on wood, you may be surprised to learn that sexually-mature termites look a lot like flying ants. Like ants, termites also develop wings and take to the air when they have outgrown their colony and are ready to mate and establish a new home. You may notice swarms of termites either inside or outside your home. You can identify swarming termites by their body shape. Look for these tell-tale signs.

  • Antennae – Termites have straight antennae that look like a V extending from the top of the head.
  • Waist – Termites do not have a defined waist like ants do. Their body is relatively straight.
  • Wings – Termite wings look like the wings on a dragonfly. Both sets of wings are straight and narrow with no variation is size between the two.

Where do you typically see flying ants or flying termites?

Both ants and termites swarm in warm weather, generally after a few days of new rain. Swarming typically lasts only a day or two as colonies meet up for breeding.

  • Ants: Flying ants are typically found outside the home. You may notice them coming out of cracks in the ground or in the sidewalk. If you have a problem with carpenter ants in your foundation or the structure of your home, you may see them inside the home.
  • Termites: If you have a termite problem, you will likely see swarms of termites in your home. They are often found near windows as they seek out the light. If they cannot get out of your home, they usually die within a few hours. You may return home to dead termites on the windowsills or around windows. But that doesn't mean the original colony of termites is dead.

What should you do if you see swarming ants or termites outside?

Swarming insects found outside away from your home pose little danger, but if either swarming ants or termites work their way into your home they can soon become a nuisance. Close windows and check that your screens are in good repair to prevent them from entering the home.

What should you do if you see swarming ants or termites inside the home?

Finding swarming ants or termites inside the home is an indication that you already have an infestation problem. Ants can be treated with ant baits or a variety of home remedies, but termites call for more immediate action. Call a pest control contractor, like those at Albemarle Termite & Pest Control, to have your home inspected and treated if needed.

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28 April 2016