Swarm Season: Ants vs. Termites
Posted on April 2nd to Featured Content
In as early as March or April, many homeowners and business owners across Tennessee will witness an alarming (yet remarkable!) display of nature – a termite swarm. Subterranean termites (the reproductive colony members known as “alates”) will begin emerging from underground colonies and often inside homes, commercial buildings, and other structures in an effort to mate and begin new termite colonies.
Swarming termites can cause alarm and concern for homeowners experiencing activity in and around their home and property. Termite swarmers emerge by the hundreds, and while this phenomenon is impossible to ignore, it is often misunderstood. To their detriment, many homeowners mistake termite swarmers for flying ants and fail to take the necessary action to eliminate the colony. The two appear very similar in shape and size making it difficult to determine what type of pest problem has arrived. While both are considered nuisances, termites are the more severe problem and should be addressed quickly to prevent further damage.
Although termites and winged or flying ants may look alike, there are distinct differences that can help you tell them apart. The antenna of swarming termites are straight and beaded while swarming ants have antennas that are elbowed or bent. An easier way to distinguish a termite from an ant is to examine the body. Termites have a broad waistline and a body that is made up of a head and lower section. However, winged or “flying ants” have pinched waistlines and three distinctive body parts including a head, abdomen, and thorax.
Both termites and winged ants have two pairs of wings but that is where the similarity ends. Termites have four wings, each of which are equal in size and length. They are also easily broken and it’s very common to find these discarded or broken wings around your home. Ants on the other hand have front wings that are noticeably larger in size than their hind wings. Both sets of wings on an ant are much more resistant than that of a termite and do not break off easily.
Steps you can take until help arrives
- Stop. Take a breath. Don’t panic!
- Do not “spray” the swarming termites with any kind of chemical. Instead, calmly inspect for where the swarmers might be entering. Mark the area(s) with tape.
- Do not tear away woodwork, trim, baseboards, wall coverings, or floorboards in an attempt to see what is going on. This is sound and important advice.
- Do vacuum. It’s okay – just hang out, grab a beverage, and vacuum up the termites.
- If the swarm is on the weekend or after hours, just keep vacuuming and do not be surprised to see more within 24 hours. A termite swarm is an indicator of a problem but will not cause any further harm to your home or property in 3 or 4 days.
Chief Termite will be happy to explain to you what to do in the event of a swarm and what we can do to stop them. We have a staff of experienced professionals that will help you identify and eliminate your pest problem whether it be termites or ants.