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As we move well into warmer weather, both termites and ants are ready to become a threat. If you’re a homeowner, you’ve seen ants. But have you seen flying ants? It is very difficult to distinguish a flying ant from a termite swarmer if…you’re NOT a bug geek! We’ll cover what each type of insect is, how to recognize them, and strategies to keep your home pest-free or GEEKY CLEAN.

What is a termite swarmer?

Simply put, a termite swarmer is a juvenile termite king or queen. They have enormous wings that give them the ability to fly. These immature termite colony masters are known to take flight in late spring when it’s warm and humid. Their goal is to find mates and start a colony of their own, preferably somewhere with a wealth of food sources—a residential home is a common target. After their nuptial flight, they shed their wings and get cozy settling in and producing more termites.  Some queens can even live over 30 years with the right conditions.

What is a flying ant?

Functionally, flying ants perform a similar function as swarming termites when it comes to new colonies. Newly matured ant queens will seek out a hospitable location for a new home and place to multiply. However, your home is a lot less appealing to a colony-seeking flying ant because they usually make their colonies outdoors. Though not uncommon, if you do find a flying ant in your home, it has likely entered by mistake.

How can you tell the difference?

Swarmer termites are darker in color with four wings of equal size and shape. This is one of the ways that flying termites can be distinguished from flying ants. Ants have four wings too, but the front wing of an ant is larger than the rear wing. Also, ants have a constricted, or narrow “waist” separating the thorax from the abdomen. Termites have a wide waist, similar in width to its’ overall body. You can also differentiate a termite swarmer from a flying ant by the antennae. Ants have bent antennae, but termites have straight antennae.

What to be on the lookout for

Carpenter ants can be a real issue, but the true danger is a termite infestation in your home. Look for these signs to determine if termites have “swarmed” your home:

  • Discarded termite swarmer wings near windows
  • Termite Mud tubes 
  • Wood that sounds hollow when tapped on and feels soft or appears darker
  • Uneven or bubbled paint could be water damage or a termite infestation
  • Swarmer termites are commonly misidentified as flying ants

Minimizing flying ants or termites

The main way termites and ants can enter your home is through a small opening in the foundation. These cracks and expansion joints can be incredibly small and still accessible. Debris from a construction project, firewood, and mulch are all attractive food sources for termites. Areas such as crawlspaces and basements provide protection and warmth termites need to thrive.

Termite and carpenter ant infestations very commonly happen in basements and garages where exposed and possibly moist wood can be found. Wet weather can worsen the chances—a hallmark of a Northeast Spring. While not as attractive as wood, termites will burrow through and behind foam boards. If the foam board insulation covers your concrete foundation above ground, reaching up to your home’s wood framing, they will be able to attack and severely damage your home’s wood framing without detection!

Call us at 413-566-8222 or contact us if you are experiencing a pest problem. We have the knowledge and the services to correct your infestation. Ask Graduate about our preventative annual plans to keep your home pest-free year-round!

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