Plant and Insect Diagnostic Clinic Update - March 26, 2008

Spring has sprung! And two insect pests common to early spring appeared in our samples this week.

The first termite swarmers of the year were sent in for identification. These silver-winged, black-bodied reproductive adults emerge from established colonies to attempt to start new colonies. Presence of termite swarmers inside the house does not prove the house is infested but it is reason for inspection of the house and property. There is no need to panic or rush. Take your time to get complete information. If termite activity is confirmed or if treatment is recommended, get at least three opinions and estimates from local, reputable pest control firms. See ISU Extension pamphlet Pm 1496, “Selecting a Termite Control Service.

Carpenter ants can be found any time of the year but activity picks up in the springtime. Carpenter ants found indoors in the winter usually come from nests somewhere within the house. Ants found indoors during spring or summer could be invaders wandering in from outdoors or they may be foragers from a nest in the wall or ceiling. While there is no easy way to determine the source, it does pay to check carefully before making any treatment. Carpenter ants do not eat wood; they hollow it out for a nesting site and their activity is often more annoying than damaging. See our web site for more details.

Ants or Termites? Concerned homeowners often fear that ant swarmers are termites. Both produce winged swarmers; winged termites and winged ants can be easily differentiated by looking at the antennae and the wings. Ants have antennae with a bend, or elbow, and termites have straight antennae. Both ants and termites have four wings, but ants have different sized wings (the hindwings are smaller than the forewings) and termites have four wings that are all the same size.


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