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Winged Termites

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Winged Termites

Winged Termites a home or other building is a near certain sign that the structure is infested. Normally termites stay hidden, either underground, inside wood or in mud tubes in order to maintain the humidity that they need to survive. It is only when the winged reproductive forms are produced that they become plainly visible, and this only happens sporadically.

Winged Termites

Winged Termites

Winged termites are about 1/4 to 3/8 inch in length and vary from black to yellow-brown in body color. They have 4 equal sized smoke-gray to brown wings that extend past the length of their body. Winged termites are also known as swarmers because they come out in large numbers all at one time usually during the springtime and after rain events.

Many people confuse winged termites with winged ants. It is very important to know the difference between swarmer ants and termites. Winged termites have straight, bead-like antennae, a thick waist, and a pair of long, equal-length wings. Winged ants have distinctively elbowed antennae, constricted waists, forewings that are larger than the rear wings.

Winged Termites Life Cycle:Winged male and female termites swarm and mate, usually in late summer and early fall. Males and females remain together to start a new colony and mate periodically thereafter to assure continued egg production. Eggs, produced by the mated female reproductive or queen, hatch in about two weeks. Nymphs develop through two stages and become workers.

Additional molts produce adults including soldiers, winged forms called alates or primary reproductives, and wingless forms which are capable of replacing deceased primary reproductives in an existing colony. A colony requires several years to become mature, an event marked by the production of winged reproductives. Mature colonies may contain up to ten thousand individuals.

As the reproductive termite nymph matures, its body lengthens and sexual organs develop. The body turns black, eyes become functional, and wings extend to twice its body length. Reproductives have only one assignment in a colony and that is to leave, find a mate and reproduce.

After emerging from a wood pile or a stump in the woods, reproductive termites fly off to find and mate with reproductives from other colonies. Only a very small percentage of swarming termites actually survive to initiate new colonies. Many are eaten by other insects, amphibians or birds. Swarms emerging inside a structure cannot escape therefore usually never survive.

Winged Termites Damage : The presence of swarming termites or their wings alone is a sure sign that termites are working in a building. Winged termites are often confused with winged ants. Most species of ants in the house are only nuisances and, except for carpenter ants, do not damage wood. For this reason it is necessary to know the differences between winged termites and winged ants. The easiest way to distinguish the two groups is to look at their waists. An ant has a narrow, wasp-like waist; a termite has a broad waist. Another sign of termites in the house is the presence of termite tubes. Termites make these earth-colored tubes for a number of reasons, primarily as a protected runway from the earth to the wood they feed on. Moreover, these tubes may serve as swarming exits for the winged termites. Look for these tubes on the cellar walls, on wooden posts, wall studs, mudsills, and door and window trim. Wood embedded in earth or in concrete cellar floors is especially susceptible to termites.

Winged Termites

Winged Termites Damage

Control:The presence of swarmers may indicate that there is an existing termite problem in or around a home, but the swarmers themselves are not dangerous and are not going to be successful at starting a new colony in your home. Unless the females land on moist soil, they will die within a short amount of time. Like ants, once the termites have mated they will start to shed their wings and homeowners may find wingless swarmers or wings lying around in window seals.

These insects can be removed from the home by vacuuming them up and placing the vacuum bag in an outdoor trash can. If termite swarmers are found, the home should be inspected for other signs of termites. Common symptoms of termite infestations include tube shelters built between the soil and wooden structures and the presence of mud-filled joints in wood framing, paneling, and trim in finished areas of a structure. In many cases, wood damaged by termites goes undetected.

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