Termites are believed to have been around for over 120 million years. They feed on the cellulose in wood and byproducts of wood; since homes began being built with wood, termites have become one of the most dangerous pests in the world. When spring rolls into Kansas City, you may see swarms of tiny winged insects. Hopefully you don’t see them in your home. With an average of $5 Billion of damage annually from destruction, termites sometimes cause irreparable damage to homes around the world, with most of that damage not falling under homeowners insurance protection. One of the worst parts is damage can go unnoticed for years until the damage becomes noticeable.
Each termite serves a role in the colony, and although it is uncertain how a termites role is determined as it matures. Some believe they are determined by needs of the colony at that
time, and they develop to fill those needs. These roles include the Queen, King, worker, soldier, and reproductives. Reproductives don’t reproduce for the colony they are born into each year;
these winged termites will leave their colony to start their own. The reproductives also go by the name of swarmers or alates.
Termite season starts each spring when the temperature sits around 70 degrees. Swarmers leave their colony to start a new one. Swarmers include both male and female termites with two sets of wings whose only goal is to start a new colony, and populate it. Once a male and female become a couple, they shed their wings, symbolizing that they are ready to start their colony. These colonies take time to grow a subterranean species which is the type of termites in Kansas City, will grow to around 75 termites after the first year. If the species is drywood, the first year may only contain around 22 individuals after the first year. This cycle of a new infestation usually begins when termite swarmers enter a home. They enter homes either through open doors and windows or through pinholes they make in walls. These pinholes are small and hard to notice.
Swarmers don’t bite, sting, or eat wood; their only purpose is to reproduce, and they eat when brought food by their workers when they grow large enough. The swarmers prepare a tube for
them to leave when it comes time. A majority of swarmers don’t make it to their destination; their bodies dry out, and they die of dehydration. This can happen in a matter of just a few hours.
They are also weak flyers, so many predators get the better of them on their way to their new home. As their nickname gives off about them, they stick to large groups, and you could see a group of just under a hundred up to a few thousand.
Termite swarmers and flying ants are commonly mistaken for one another when found in the home or around it. There are a few defining characteristics that separate them. Including their wings, the termite swarmer is just under a half-inch. Flying ants are a little bit bigger, measuring on average two-thirds of an inch. The other body characteristics differences are their wings; swarmers will have two pairs of wings that are all of the equal lengths, while a flying ant has one pair that is long and their second pair is short. Their body shapes could be the most easily recognizable trait behind their wings as ants have segmented bodies with a thin abdomen and termite swarmers have a body that is a single segment and is often described as cigar-like. The last difference is with each species of antennae. Swarmers have shorter straight antennae, while ants have longer antennae with a bend in them.
What Can You Do?
There are not a lot of options when it comes to preventing swarmers other than monitoring your home and fixing any damage that they may take advantage of. Seal any cracks that you may have in your windows or doors, or replace any damaged wood in your home. You will also want to dispose of any swarmers that you catch; the best way would be to vacuum them up along with any wings that you find along with them. This may not seem like much, but getting them before they mate can stop a future infestation. Install termite monitoring stations around your home to monitor any termite activity around the property.