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Is that a flying termite or ant that I see???

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We've been receiving a large number of calls from our customers in Florida and Georgia reporting termite swarms. And really it comes as no surprise since the hotter temps and heavy rains have created the perfect conditions for swarming. Even the Florida Department of Agriculture's Entomology Bureau has taken notice, marking 2009 a banner year for termites.

Swarm season usually begins in March and can last through early June. Swarming occurs when termites decide to expand their territory and leave their nests to create new colonies. Not surprisingly, termites become most visible when they swarm - especially if the swarm happens inside your home.

It's very common for homeowners to mistake destructive termites for the less harmful winged flying ant species.

Termites are known to cause more than $5 billion dollars in damage each year, so it's crucial to know the difference between termite swarms and winged ants so you can take the necessary action. Arrow offers the following tips:

  • Flying termites have two pair of wings that are the same size and shape, while winged ants - such as carpenter and fire ants - have front wings that are larger than their hind ones.
  • Ant antennae are "elbowed," while termite antennae are straight.
  • Their bodies also differ. Termites have a broad waist, while ants have a narrow midsection.

Recognizing the destruction termites can cause, it's also important to be aware of infestation warning signs:

  • Swarming usually occurs during mid-day, especially when sunny or often following rainfall.
  • Evidence of mud tunneling in, over and under wood structures.
  • Wooden structures exhibit darkening or blistering.
  • Damaged wood becomes extremely thin and can be easily punctured by a knife or a screwdriver.
  • Appearance of hundreds of discarded wings on or around windowsills, because the termites will attempt to get outside by flying toward the light.

So don't sit back and take the risk! Be sure to contact a pest professional who can help determine if you have a termite infestation and create a plan to protect your family and home from these costly pests.

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