Termites flying in the wild nature as well as near people are also called “white ants”. Flying, winged, swarming insects are a real threat to the man-made structures. Giant trees and gorgeous buildings, infected by these insects, crumble to dust with a light push. There are special services for termites’ eradication. These insects are intoxicated with different chemicals, but with no significant result. Termites cause big problems to the mankind. But are they so bad? What is their role in nature?
Termite swarmers as well as ants are social insects. They live in big colonies with different casts. Every cast performs its function and provides the whole colony with necessary living conditions. At the same time, termites flying and ants are distant relatives as they have only external similarity. Swarming termites lead their lineage from cockroaches.
Houses, attacked by winged termites can literary be ruined in a few years after starting a colony. The termites chew through all wooden items – furniture, picture frames, and constructive elements.
Flying termites: how to distinguish them from flying ants
This question is not simple. Though termites are called “white ants”, they are not ants.
How to distinguish termite swarm from ants?
- Body structure. Both termites swarmer’s and ants are insects and their bodies have three parts: a head, a thorax and an abdomen. Thorax is a part of their body which has chelae and wings. But ants have very distinctive borders between these parts, so called neck and waist. As for termites – all their segments flow from one to another. Ants’ wings are of different size – little and long. Termite’s wings are all of equal length; they fully cover the termite’s body.
- Working termites can’t fly. They are white, colorless or clear. There are no paint pigments in their bodies, for they don’t need them. The whole termites’ life is in the soil, in the darkness. That is why, they don’t even need eyes. A swarming termite is a bit darker. Ants can be red, black, yellow, etc.
- Termites feed on only with plant food, first of all wood, cellulose. For effective digestion termites’ intestine is settled by very specialized bacteria, which don’t allow the termite to eat something else. Otherwise, any termite, whether flying or not, will die. Ants can feed on mostly animal food (other insects and spineless animals) and sometimes plant food (flower dust, nectar, tree, vegetable and fruit saps).
- Relationship with people. There a lot of kinds of ants, and not all of them are dangerous for people. As for all termites that fly around, the mankind can’t live close to them. All termites are depredators, capable to eat the entire house or at least furniture if it is made from wood.
A flying termite, how does it look like?
There different kinds of termites, but all of them are subdivided into casts:
- They are the smallest adult termites. Their body length is no more than 1 cm. They have soft and clear body, they can’t see. It is easy to recognize working termites as they have round head and poor thorax. At the same time South African flying white ants – Hodotermes – often appear on the surface, that is why their bodies are dark-brown. Working termites can males or females (working ants are only females). Their task is to breed the nymphs, forage and keep food, nest building and repairing. What is more, only working termites can eat by their own without any help. At the same time, they feed soldiers, the queen and the king.
- They are also working termites, but they have other functions and as a result, other body construction – a big head with massive sharp jars. Their main goal is the colony defense from ants and other enemies. Some types of warrior termites have a little head process, with a help of which the termite inject a specific sticky secretion into the enemy and kill it. Soldiers have a big head which acts like a cork during fights, closing entering to the nest. When the mound is partially destroyed, soldiers face enemies’ attack until workers fill up a gap. In this case soldiers have no opportunity to return back.
- Mature species are the queen, the king and young alates – winged termites. The queen’s size is enormously large – up to 10 cm. The queen is absolutely helpless – she can’t move and eat independently. She needs thousand working termites, which will feed her, take care and even replace her in another chamber. The queen lives with a king, which is not larger than a typical worker or soldier. Only king can mate with the queen. By the way, ant-male dies soon after fertilization. The queen’s fertility is really amazing, for she may lie about two thousand eggs per day. Every two seconds working termites take eggs to the safer place.
- Young mature termites have flying wings and live in the parental house until swarming period (spring – beginning of summer). They all leave the nest for an exclusive moment in their life – a nuptial flight. At this time they are very vulnerable and become food for different kinds of birds, spiders and other large insects. Those who are lucky, start creating a new nest. But not all of them fly out. Some alates stay inside a mound in case the queen or the king dies.
Termite swarmers: know your enemy
Subterranean termite swarmer likes to nest in the ground or in the wet wood. Their bodies are so soft and gentle that they never go out in the daytime. They are constantly looking for food and usually choose timber that lies on the ground. Sometimes they have to build special mud tubes to reach the treatment. Working termites is the only cast that can eat and feed the rest of the colony. When a working termite is full, it runs to the mound and feeds soldiers, nymphs, king or queen, flying alate termites. Subterranean termites are the most numerous types in the USA.
Dry wood termites find a shelter in the timber of different kinds – furniture, construction elements, dry dead wood. They fully live and feed on the wood. Dry wood termites can infect the house only if they have contact with the wood. For example, dry logs in your house or already infected pieces of furniture. They can eat the house from foundation to the attic. Dry wood termites get rid of their excrements – dry pellets, which can be typical sigs of their presence.
Damp wood termites prefer rotted stumps, wet timber that is buried to the wet soil. Some people think that damp wood termites can exist only in nature. But they are deeply mistaken. Damp wood termites can also settle in people’s houses causing noticeable damages. They usually appear inside the building from old furniture and constructive materials, which have bad ventilation or water leaks.
Swarming termites (termite swarm): protect your house from the unwelcomed hungry guests
If you notice little holes in wood construction of your house, hollow sound from knocking with a hard item on the timber, you will have a real danger of termites’ infestation. These insects lead a very reserved way of life. You may never notice them, but in 2-3 years they can ruin your house. They are dangerous only from this point of view. They don’t cause a direct threat to people, but may lead to catastrophic damages.
This information will be useful for those who have faced the termites’ problem. Additionally you may protect yourself from winged termites’ infestation in the future.
So if you have at least one of these signs, you should take immediate measures or address specialists:
- Little round holes – termites gnaw the wood through making long tunnels in it.
- Tunnels can be in the form of crackers, damaged places. Try to pick open it to see if it is a termite’s track.
- Fibrous peat – little dust near the holes is one more distinctive feature of termites’’ threat.
- Pellets – termites always clear their nest from excrements, which become their perfect marking.
The earlier you notice that your house has termites, the better. In early stages this problem can be solved easily and fast. Look through the tips and follow them carefully. You will definitely succeed in fighting swarmed termites.
- Nematodes are an alternative means to fight termites. Nematodes are parasites that invade the insect and after a while, usually 48 hours, destroy it. This method is very effective when you start war with.
- Boric acid is a very helpful method. The acid insults the nervous system of termites, making it die from dehydration. Of course, you shouldn’t spray the acid on all termites. It will be enough to treat the wooden surface with the liquid. The termite will eat the poisoned wood and soon die.
- High or low temperatures are also effective measures, but they suit only for some furniture items. Infected wood is placed outside in very sunny weather. High temperatures and open light kill termites. It will better if the furniture stays in the sun for 2-3 days. Another method is freezing. As a result, termites will die in 1-2 days.
- Use different kinds of insecticides, liquids and foams. These methods can help you to eliminate termites from your house very quickly. But they work only on those insects that try to save themselves by running. Gases and especially foams get deeply into the cracks and kill the termites. It is also effective to spray insecticides on fences.
- Bug zappers are also very helpful against swarming termites. This kind of insect is attracted by electric light of a bug zapper and killed. Of course this appliance is effective only during termites’ nuptial flight.
Preventive measures against termites
If you haven’t seen termites in the yard or have won the battle with these harmful insects, you should take some preventive steps. Specialists recommend the following:
- After you have finished the building of your house, keep the nearby soil dry.
- Do not allow wooden construction contact the soil. Make concrete foundation.
- Seal all the cracks in the foundation.
- Keep the breathing holes free from anything, including debris plants.
- Make sure that trees and bushes grow at a distance from your house. Delete all stumps and old trees in your backyard.
- Do not place wood logs in your house
- Take away all wood trash around the house
- Inspect periodically wood logs in their keeping places to prove that termites do not live there.
If all taken measures are insufficient, you should call a special termite extermination service. The specialists will thoroughly inspect your house on the matter of termites’ signs and tracks. The experts will identify the type of the termites and choose the most effective tools and measures for their total eradication. Only in that case you will get rid of termites once and forever.