Summer, the favorite season of many, full of fun and play in the sun, is also the peak season for drywood termite swarms. Drywood termites, although not harmful to humans, can be devasting to your home. It is estimated that termites, such as the drywood species, cause over $5 billion dollars in damages to homes all over the United States each year. Burying through wood and creating galleries throughout, these insects will weaken your home structure from the inside out.
Swarmer Behavior and Appearance
Swarmers, which are also known as alates, are the reproductive members of a termite colony. Unlike worker or soldier termites, a swarmer’s only job is to reproduce. Swarmers themselves do not bite, sting, or eat wood; however, they are a likely indication of a colony of termites that do. Swarmers, because of their appearance, are often mistaken for flying ants. They are identified by their two pairs of large, pale wings, contrary to the flying ant, which has two pairs of both large wings, and small wings. Swarmers are also commonly found in groups, and typically not alone.
Swarmers, being poor fliers, normally travel no further than 300 ft away from their original colony. Therefore, if swarmers can be spotted outside of your home, there may likely be a tree with a colony located in your yard or in a tree nearby. If swarmers can be found inside of your home, there may likely be a colony located inside or even beneath your home.
Signs of Infestation
Other than spotting a group of swarmers themselves, there are some other signs that you can look out for that could indicate an infestation. After swarmers find their mates, they will shed their wings. These abandoned wings may appear near windowsills and other possible entryways. These wings are typically ¼ to ½ inches long. You may also be able to find dead swarmers inside your house, near these same typical entryways, as they do not last long indoors.
Stuck windows or doors could also be a sign of a drywood termite infestation. These termites tend to target locations such as windows and doorframes, where wood is exposed and easily accessible. They may also cause problems such as sagging floors and ceilings. If you believe a home structural problem could be caused by termites, look closely at wood surfaces for tunnels containing dried dirt.
Termite droppings, also known as frass, is another sign of termite activity. As termites digest the wood they eat, they push it out of their colony to avoid build up. Drywood termite frass is uniquely hexagonally shaped, and can vary in color, depending on the color of the wood they are eating.
Solving an Infestation
Although swarmers can be quite annoying to deal with, they are only a symptom of the real problem at hand. Simply killing swarmers will not terminate the colonies they come from, and using over-the-counter sprays or aerosols may damage or stain building materials. It is recommended that you seek the help of your local exterminator.
For a termite infestation, a localized treatment of the affected wood areas can be done. Foam or dry flowable bait is injected into each wood gallery. Revisits and checkups may also be necessary to keep the problem from popping up again.
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