It might be true that April showers bring May flowers….. but they also bring swarming termites. This particular stage of the life cycle of a termite where it is large enough to be seen and often mistaken for winged ants. Unfortunately, the similarities between the two make it easy for that to happen. There are several points you should consider just in case you run into any of them. The swarming termite has four wings of the same size that are larger than their own body.. Flying ants will also have two sets of wings, one set longer than the other, and both sets are generally equal to or slightly longer than the ant’s body. While flying ants have elbowed or bent antennae, the swarming termites have straight antennae. Termites tend to have a big waist as opposed to the thin waist ants have. Hopefully, this will help you in identifying the pest you are dealing with.
To avoid the effects of the sun and obtain the moisture required for their survival, all Subterranean termites live in the ground. When gaining access to a food source requires exposure to sun light, workers build mud tubes which provide protection from the sun’s harmful effects. If there are mud tubes present, termite control professionals or home owners of active termites will realize there is a problem. If there is sufficient moisture available for the termites in the structure, they need not return to the soil, therefore one of the early warning signs won’t be present. The moisture required by termites is harmful to our homes in itself and can be caused by roof or plumbing leaks, clogged gutters, insufficient caulking or exterior paint deterioration, improper irrigation, etc. Termites can also gain access to our homes undetected if the exterior siding is in direct contact with the soil, excessive vegetation is present against the foundation, or if the mulch in landscaped areas is above the bottom of the siding.
When spring arrives and the urge to rework landscaping comes on, it’s important to remember how those changes can affect the possibility of termite infestation. Many will wonder how termites and landscaping are inter-twined, but because our native termites are subterranean, the answer is…. everything. Beware that if you increase the water supply to the plants close to your home, you may be increasing the risk of termite infestation also. Leaving a landscape-free zone of one to two feet around the perimeter of the home is something worth considering. If you are able to cut down on the amount of moisture which is around your home you will improve the chances of a thorough inspection. Maybe the crucial thing is the choice of materials used for landscaping and retaining wall construction. Used railroad ties can be responsible for introducing termites to area where there was no previous activity from them. Because the ties were previously in contact with soil on at least three sides and are frequently transported across state lines, there is no telling the infestation potential or from where yours were purchased. Landscaping timbers, bricks, rocks, molded plastic, etc. are a better choice for retaining walls or flower bed, borders.
Environmentally, termites actually provide beneficial services, by helping recycle old trees and other natural cellulose-based organic materials. Their typical behavior decomposes organic matter, returning nutrients to and aerating the soil, thereby promoting plant growth. This behavior results in costly damage to residences. Armed with knowledge about termites, their habitat, what attracts them, and what repels them, homeowners should be able to prevent a termite infestation from damaging their home.