Archive for February, 2011

Subterranean Termites – Swarming!

Yes, it is that time of year (at least in Sunny St. Petersburg,Fl.) when the temperature and humidity is just right for the hordes of cellulose eating subterranean termites to swarm.

While it is only natural to see termite swarmers outside, the presence of termite swarmers inside of your home must raise serious concern.

Swarming occurs when reproductive male and female termites exit the colony and attempt to begin building a new colony. Since it takes most termite colonies at least three years to produce termite swarms, this is a likely sign of an ongoing problem.

 It is often difficult to determine the difference between termites and ants. Termites have two pair of wings (front and back) and are of almost equal length. Ants also have two pair of wings but the fore wings are much larger than the hind wings. 

Also, termites have relatively straight antennae while ants have elbowed antennae.

   Ants generally do not swarm at the same time as termites, but it can happen.
   Termites have a thick waist and ants have a narrow waist
   Termites have straight antennae and ants have elbowed antennae
   Termites have four wings that are all equal in length
   Ants have four wings, however, two are larger and two are smaller

This is an example of a healthy subterranean termite swarm. The easiest way to identify the subterranean termites and the drywood termites are the wings.  As you can see here, the subterranean termite has a black body with white milky wings, as a drywood termite usually has iridescent wings.

Fun Termite Facts:

Termites have been around since the time of the dinosaurs!

Termites live long lives. Every termite colony has a queen which may live from 15 to 30 years, laying hundreds of eggs each day. Any number of colonies may infest a home.

Termite colonies eat non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week!

Termites do more damage than all fires, hurricanes and tornadoes combined.

The total weight of all of the termites in the world is more than the weight of all the humans in the world.

In Australia, termites build towers 6 metres high and 30 metres wide. Ten tonnes of mud are collected bit by bit by millions of insects. Soilder termite guard the mud castle, where the queen lays her eggs and is fed by worker termites.

Termite nests may be over 20 feet (7 meters) high and contain more than a million insects in a highly structured society.

These nests are intricately built, with a huge network of chambers and passageways, including ventilation, drainage, and heating systems.

Amazingly, termites manage to build their nests entirely out of soil, using saliva where necessary to hold it together!

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