The change of season from winter to spring brings warm weather, sunshine, and … bugs! This is the time of year when many pests emerge from overwintering and begin the mating process. Spring is also known as swarm season – because this is the time when termites and flying ants emerge in droves, sometimes in swarms of thousands! While flying ants can cause problems in and around your home, termites are much more common – and much more costly! How can you tell if those swarming insects are terrible termites or flying ants? Check out our handy reference below for the key differences between the two, as well as what to do if you have these pests swarming in or near your home.
- 4 wings of uniform size
- Straight antennae
- Wings are twice as long as their body
- Broad waist with uniform body width
Termites usually swarm once a year for reproduction and expansion of their colonies. Swarms mark the official beginning of termite season. Subterranean termites swarm in spring and during the daytime. Drywood termites swarm in late summer and early fall. Dampwood termites swarm in the summer.
Termites swarm after their colony reaches a certain size and the weather conditions are optimal. The termites are attracted to light and are often found near windows and light fixtures. Swarming termites will try to squeeze through racks and crevices in your walls and foundations to try and reach open air. If you see swarming termites then there is a good chance there is a well-established termite colony in or near your home.
- Also have 4 wings, with larger front wings than back wings
- Elbowed antennae
- Shorter wings that are more proportionate to their bodies
- Segmented bodies with thin waists
Flying ants will swarm in late spring and early summer. They have to have bright sunlight, low winds, high humidity, and warm temperatures to swarm. They prefer to swarm after there has been 3 to 5 days of rain.
Flying ants swarm for the same reasons as termites – to reproduce and expand their colonies. Flying ants don’t represent any greater threat to humans than their wingless counterparts. Flying ants aren’t as significant a threat to your home as termites but they can still cause damage. If you have flying ant swarms in your home there is a good chance you have an established ant colony in your walls.
So now that you can identify exactly what kind of pest is swarming around your home, what should you do next?
- Contact a professional pest control company to come out and evaluate the swarm, as well as provide you with a treatment plan and prevention strategy.
- Don’t spray the swarms yourself with insecticide. Mark the areas where they are getting into your home and notify your pest control professional. Make sure to inspect the entire exterior of your home for possible entry points.
- Vacuum up any pests that get into your home. Both species are attracted to light so you may see them congregate around light fixtures or windows.
- Don’t tear away any woodwork, trim, baseboards, wall coverings, or floorboards. Instead, inspect them for termite damage by pressing your thumb against the wood and feeling for defects.
- Try to keep your windows and doors closed as much as possible during swarm season.