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Before you decide on a treatment plan for termites, it is very important to determine the species you are dealing with. In the southern part of the United States, subterranean termites are the most common. Subterranean termites are the underground termite and travel in mud shelter tubes. They make up about 90% of the termite infestations in the United States. Subterranean termite species that are the most common are the Eastern subterranean termite, Arid Land subterranean termite and the western subterranean termite. Formosan termites are also a species of subterranean termite that are common in areas of Louisiana, Texas and Florida. If you live more than 500 miles from the gulf coast, it is likely that your termites are subterranean.
Drywood termites live in dry wood and do not need moisture from the ground to Survive. Drywood termites are most common in areas near the Gulf Coast and in Southern California. Drywood termites require a different treatment than subterranean termites, so it is important if you live in these areas to determine what species you have. You could have both subterranean termites and drywood termites at the same time, and they would require 2 different treatments to control them. Click here for more info on Drywood termites.
Subterranean Termite Swarmer
(note: black body / white wings)
Drywood Termite Swarmer
(note: red body / black wings)
Carpenter ants look very similar to swarming termites due to the fact that both reproductive stages have wings. If you find signs of winged insects, don't panic and assume that they are automatically termites. Carefully pick one up and look at under a magnifying glass. Look for the most common sign - the color. Subterranean termite swarmers are solid black, drywood swarmers are solid red, while carpenter ants are usually red and black or dark brown. The other big difference is in the body. Termites all have a long body with no small segments attached. Ants always have a thin neck and a thin waist. Check out the chart below to help determine the difference. If you think you have carpenter ants, then don't go any further, because carpenter ants require a totally different treatment than termites. Click here for more info on Carpenter Ants.
Ants species that are commonly confused with subterranean termite swarmers are carpenter ants and fire ants. Both of these ant species have winged reproductives that swarm in the early spring and randomly during the year. The important thing to remember however, is that subterranean termites only swarm in the spring in the US, and occasionally in the fall. Subterranean termite swarmers are very poor fliers and only use their wings to swarm. They will break them off soon after swarming to make crawling easier. They will then search out a mate and pair off to start a new colony. You may encounter piles of broken wings, especially on window sills, and near areas of sunlight such as doorways, etc.
Winged ants do not break off their wings and are very strong fliers. Compare your pests to the pictures above to determine what you have.
Click here for more information on how to control ants.
Click here for more information on how to kill and get rid of termites
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