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reproductives produce the offspring in the colony and swarm at certain times of the
year. Colonies can have both primary reproductives (one king and one
hundreds of secondary reproductives to assist in egg laying and colony growth.
To tell the difference between a winged reproductive termite and a swarming ant,
look at the swarmer's body shape, antennae
and length of wings.
- An swarming ant has three
distinct body parts: head, abdomen and thorax. In other words, it
looks like an ant - with wings. Swarming termites do not have three
distinct body parts. Look at the termite picture above. The
insect seems to have only a head and a long body.
- All ants have
"elbowed" antennae. Flying reproductive termites have
- Swarming termites and
swarming ants both have four wings, although this is not apparent when the
insect is at rest because their wings fold back against the top of the
body. Termite swarmers have four wings of equal length. Ant
swarmers front wings are longer than their rear pair of wings.
If termite swarmers (winged reproductives) are found
inside of your home, it can be a sign of trouble. When there are dozens of
swarmers or their wings located indoors, you probably have a problem. If
only one or two are found on a window sill or on the floor beneath a vent, the
chance of a problem is far less. In either case, try to leave the
"evidence" undisturbed. Your termite control service company can
give a more precise inspection and better service when they are given a good
look at visible signs found in your home. Try to follow these guidelines
when swarmers are found:
- It is not necessary to buy a bug spray to kill
indoor swarming termites. These swarming reproductives will not live
for long and (if they are indeed subterranean termites) they can do you no
harm. After swarming and mating, the mated female must burrow into
soil to attempt to start a new colony. If she lands on your floor, she
will simply die. Indoor swarmers will not
cause a termite problem but they can be a sign of an existing problem!
- When swarmers are found outdoors, it is not usually a problem for your
home. To be safe and feel more secure, call your licensed PCO for a
- Try not to disturb indoor evidence. In far too many cases, pest
control technicians are called after the swarmers and their wings have been
swept up and thrown away. This does not help the PCO, who needs all
possible evidence to evaluate the problem. The type of termite, number
of swarmers and location of winged termites are important pieces of
information. In some cases, the actual size of the swarmers can tell
your PCO if the termite colony is very young and weak or older and strong.
- If winged reproductives or their wings are in an area that must be
cleaned, keep all evidence in a clean, clear bag. In different parts
of the United States there can be anywhere from two to four types of
destructive termites. Some types of termites require different or more
thorough treatment and (most importantly!!) a different contract guarantee!
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