Every year about this time we start getting phone calls about “flying ants”. More times than not though what they are actually seeing are termite swarmers. As winter starts to fade and warm days approach a clock goes off for termites letting them know it’s time to head out and start a new colony. Typically termite colonies do not produce swarmers until they are at least 3 years old.
Once the colony has matured it will begin to produce alate nymphs. These nymphs develop into termite swarmers with wings. These swarmers will then fly up and pair with a mate. Once they find a new location to establish their own colony the wings will fall off and the pair will then mate.
The female becomes the queen of her new colony. She may lay up to a million eggs in here lifetime. Some of these newly hatched termites will develop into workers while others become soldiers protecting the queen and her colony.
Differences between termite swarmers and flying ants include:
- Termites have straight antenna while ants have elbowed antenna.
- While both termite and ants have 2 sets of wings the termites wings are equal lengths but the flying ant has a front wing that is longer than the back wing.
- Ants have a well defined head, abdomen, and thorax body segments while the termite swarmer to just have a head and uniform width body.
At the end of the day it’s best not to take chances. Call an expert and have the swarmers properly identified. If your home is under a termite protection plan then call the provider and let them know what you are seeing. If you aren’t on a termite control plan then you should definitely consider getting on one. In South Carolina the question isn’t will you get termites it’s when.