Winged termites are almost always a sign that a home has been infested. If you see winged termites indoors or around the foundations of your house, an inspection and treatment are warranted. You are most likely to see these winged pests in Spring, especially between the months of March and May, when their reproductive cycle begins. As soon as you see winged termites in or near your house, contact a professional pest control service for quotes on inspecting your property.
Termites can be extremely secretive, hiding deep in the recesses of the wooden structures of your house, or concealing themselves outdoors in underground colonies. Homeowners are often more likely to see the signs of their presence than to see the insects, themselves. Evidence that termites have infested your home may include mud tubes running along foundations and floor joists, wooden beams that have been hollowed out along the grain or tiny heaps of dust or fecal pellets along the wooden structures of your home.
Significance of Winged Termites
Once termites have infested your dwelling, these insects can cause tremendous damage. Because they are rarely visible, termite colonies can exist for years in the soil outside your house, in the foundations or in the structures of your residence. Colonies often appear in moisture-saturated areas of your yard or garden, such as the area below a leaky water faucet. Dry wood species tend to inhabit the foundations, joists, beams or other structures, devouring the wood and eventually undermining the structural stability of your home.
A termite colony includes a king and a queen, which produce millions of eggs to create the colony. The majority of the insects are workers or foragers, but some members are dedicated to reproduction. During the warm, moist Spring months, reproductive members of the colony develop wings and begin to swarm. Winged termites, also known as “swarmers,” leave the colony to find mates and complete their reproductive cycle. The winged structures are only attached for a brief period of time, after which they are discarded.
Finding scattered wings around your windows, doors or baseboards is another indication of an infestation. Swarmers are attracted to light, and they may often be seen hovering around lighted outdoor areas after dark. Many homeowners mistake winged termites for winged ants, but these insects are quite different in appearance. Winged ants have narrow waists and wings of unequal sizes in the front and back, while termites have consistently thick bodies and long wings of equal length. Termites are about 1/4 to 3/8 inches long and are frequently black, gray or tan in color.
These winged pests only appear once a year. After their wings fall off, the reproductive insects form new colonies and return to their hidden areas. Many of the winged insects are eaten by birds, frogs or other insects and do not survive long enough to create a new colony.
Treatments for Termites
Although there are a number of do-it-yourself termite killing treatments that can be purchased at hardware stores, drugstores or supermarkets, hiring a professional pest control service to eliminate winged termites and their colonies is the most effective way to kill the insects and prevent a re-infestation. Large quantities of liquid termiticide — insecticide formulated to eradicate these particular pests — are required in order to thoroughly eliminate the colonies. These substances are typically injected into the ground surrounding the house using long rods and other specialized equipment.
Baiting is another common method, which may be combined with liquid treatments to achieve the most long-lasting results. Pest control experts install cardboard or paper devices underground to attract the insects. Once the pests have ingested the toxic substance inside the trap, they transmit the toxin to other members of the colony, who then die. Colonies may take years to develop, and eradication doesn’t happen quickly.
Although it’s important to schedule an inspection as soon as you notice winged termites or scattered wings in the Spring, you don’t have to be rushed into choosing a pest control company. Take time to find a reliable, highly experienced team with a strong reputation in your community. The company should be licensed by the government agency that regulates pest control in your state. Collect quotes from several contractors to compare the cost of treatment and the types of services that each company provides.
Although liquid and baiting treatments are the most common approaches, some contractors use non toxic methods, as well. Some companies offer a free inspection, while others charge for both the inspection and the elimination procedures. Commercial termiticides are intended to last for up to 5 years when they are applied correctly, but a reliable company may extend the warranty or provide free treatments for a certain period of time if winged termites reappear.