Flying Ants and Termites

— Written By N.C. Cooperative Extension

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    This is the time year when we start to see ants swarming the skies.  Carpenter Ants and Termites are among the first to take flight.  The concern for most people is these ants are eating their houses right out from under them.  

    Carpenter ant is a generic term used to cover several species of ants that nest near wood.  There is one genus, Camponotus, which will burrow into wood and make its nest.  These are the ones to worry about.  Look for signs of them near soft or rotting wood.  They are most often found near old tree stumps or fallen trees.  If carpenter ants are found swarming near a standing tree, this may be a sign of decay inside the tree.  In this case it would be a good idea to get a certified arborist to take a look at the tree for other signs of instability.  For more information on carpenter ants there is an information sheet on the World Wide Web at http://insects.ncsu.edu//Urban/carpanterants.htm.

    Termite swarms generally peak around the first to the middle of April, but some have already been reported across the state of North Carolina.  Swarms generally occur the day after a big weather event such as a heavy rainstorm.  Seeing swarms outdoors is normal and an indication that termites are in the area.  If there is a swarm inside, generally around windows or doors, a call to the pest control professionals is in order.  Termite control is best left to the professionals who can apply the right chemicals to protect the home and other dwellings.  Do-it-yourself products such as consumer-version baits can be used as an indicator that there are termites in the area.  Sprays products applied to the outside foundation will help to slow down ants on the outside of the house.  For more information on termites there is an information sheet on the World Wide Web at http://insects.ncsu.edu/Urban/termites.
    
    Ant and termite swarms are nothing to worry about as long as they remain outside.  If they are swarming inside there may be a problem.  Call a local pest control company to come do an inspection of the house, especially the crawl space under the house.  If an infestation of termites or carpenter ants is found it is always a good idea to get at least three estimates and compare not only the prices but the services and warranties offered by each company.

    For more information on ants and termites contact the Cooperative Extension Service at 989-5380 or on the Internet at http://johnston.ces.ncsu.edu.  For other gardening question contact the Extension Master Gardeners at 989-5380 Monday, Wednesday, or Friday from 1-4 or by e-mail at jcmastergardener@yahoo.com.