Termites eat my dust
September 18, 2010 5:37 PM   Subscribe

Is this a termite and if so, now what?

These guys are starting to pop up all over the kitchen in the last few weeks. I assume they are termites, but wanted to check the hive mind first.

I am renting, so I am not concerned about what to do structurally, but I am interested to know if there are any other issues I should be aware of regarding termites. Such as, will they destroy other personal non wooden items, will they spread disease, will they eat my furniture?

Thanks for your thoughts and info
posted by silsurf to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
From the angle you're holding it, it's hard to tell. Swarming ants and swarming termites looks somewhat alike. The primary visible difference is in the abdomen. If it's noticeably thin, it's an ant. Googling for "difference between swarming ants and termites" will provide pictures.

If it's a termite, it's unlikely that it'll eat your furniture, but I've had subterranean termites trash a box of book that was in a corner of my garage.
posted by dws at 5:47 PM on September 18, 2010

And please, tell your landlord - he or she can talk to professionals about it. Certainly your landlord would want to know if these are termites.
posted by infodiva at 6:45 PM on September 18, 2010

Winged termites have four wings all the same length; ants have two large & two small wings.
If they are termites, it would be asholic not to mention it to your landlord, mo matter how unconcerned you may be--the little guys can destroy a building.

They aren't very fast, so your wooden items are pretty safe unless you do not move them for months. They do not care for non-wood, but they define wood generously--books, for example, are wood.

Diseases? No.
posted by hexatron at 6:51 PM on September 18, 2010

In my experience with termites, they tend - at least here - to swarm all at once on a warm Spring day. These are the 'alates', the sexual forms, the only ones with wings. They die within a day or two. Most termites are wingless and stay underground/in wood, as they need higher humidity. Agree that looking up pictures, specially from the Entymology department of a nearby university, is useful.
posted by quercus23 at 1:22 AM on September 19, 2010

The winged termites are meant as mating termites. They typically emerge from their nest, fly once for a short duration, land, and then lose their wings. In fact, one of the ways you can tell you've got termites is by the little tiny wings all over the place. Creepy as hell, they are.

Trust me, I know (all too well) from experience.
posted by cerebus19 at 8:08 AM on September 19, 2010

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