This time of year after a heavy rain-followed by a sunny day-we see these long-winged creatures flittering about. If you aren’t familiar with a damp-wood termite, you might think it’s just another fly-by-night pest. But in fact these little buggers are responsible for BILLIONS of dollars in damage to property each year.
These are a few of the unlucky damp wood termites who were caught by a little spider friend of mine at sundown. Damp-Wood termites typically venture out toward artificial light in the early evening hours. CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO SEE A CLOSE-UP.
The process of termite "swarming" is in an effort to establish a new colony. Frequently, they will do so after a heavy rain followed by a sunny day. In the Bay Area peninsula where we live this is not relegated to any one time of the year as in other parts of the country. Our Indian summers make both the typical spring swarm as well as a fall swarm likely. What do you do if you also hate spiders too? Why call an exterminator of course.
The sign of a swam does not mean your home has termites. These critters will often fly from a neighbor’s yard, dead brush or tree. After they land, they will drop their wings and look for a place to nest. Once a male and female mate and a colony is established, they look nothing like their flying alter ego. They are a translucent-almost albino color-as compared to their flight suit of black, yellow or orange. Finding termites in or near a structure does not mean you have an immediate emergency since the rate at which damage occurs is relatively slow.
There are three common types of termites: Dry Wood, Damp-Wood and Subterranean. Subterranean termites follow much of the same swarming pattern as their larger cousins the Damp-Wood termite, though they are much smaller and more readily confused with ants. They too will drop their wings but fly much shorter distances in more of a glider style flight and are often simply carried with whichever way the wind is blowing.
If you’ve ever seen your car covered with little black wings you are more than likely seeing the result of a subterranean swarm-good thing they no longer makes cars of wood. Subterranean termites live in the ground, as opposed to damp-wood termites which typically live outdoors in dead trees, fences and wood retaining walls; while dry wood termites prefer to live in your walls, floor, ceilings and attic. In order to reach edible wood in your home, subterranean wood termites will build what is referred to as a "mud tube"
from the ground up until they reach their food supply-often, your home. Mud tubes are an easy indicator you may have subterranean termites eating away at your home’s equity. We’ve seen colonies of subterranean termites in the ground under trees where an ample supply of dead foliage keeps them well fed.
The most immediate home remedy and effective treatment for these cellulous devouring bugs is good old fashioned Windex. If you see a swarm landing near your home, this quick clean-up solution does the trick. Of course Windex is no long term solution to use. If you see any indication of termite activity, often noted by what appears to be "sand" (mixture of soil, feces, and saliva) on your floors, windowsills, walls of near vents, it’s a good idea to get a professional home exterminator to come out and treat your home with more effective chemicals.