Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Crane Flies Among Us

I'm sure you have noticed by now (they have certainly been a nuisance around my house for the past few weeks), but crane flies are back with abundance! These delicate, long legged insects are a staple of spring. They are sometimes called mosquito hawks, however they don't eat mosquitoes, and mayflies, although they are not at all closely related to mayflies.

Being blessed with rain and a very mild (if not warm) winter has allowed them to prosper. When crane flies emerge, it always seems to indicate warmer weather and spring around the corner. This year they are out a little early, but that's to be expected with our weather.

Although I can't seem to convice my 4 year old and her very impressionable little sister, crane flies are completely harmless. In fact, they likely don't even have functioning mouthparts. They are attracted to lights, which is why we see them more often during evening hours, and they will fly indoors when windows or doors are opened. They are extremely seasonal, and this little balloon in their population will die down soon.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Termite Swarm Season

February is the time of year when subterranean termites swarm (winged forms leave the nest to mate and form new colonies). Last year, there was not much of a swarming season - probably due to the very cold winter and dry weather. Because of that, this year may have a pretty heavy swarming season - time will tell.

Swarmers are in indication of a colony nearby. Swarmers are not great fliers like dragonflies or butterflies, so where you find them is usually very close to where they emerged. If you find swarmers indoors, this is an indication that you have an established colony in the building. If you find termite swarmers indoors, contact a pest management company that has experience with termites to come do an inspection.

Every yard has termites if you dig in enough places. They are very common in the landscape. When they get too close to the structure or enter the structure to feed on the cellulose in your house, they become a structural pest.

It is also important to remember that both termites and ants have swarmers, and they are very easy to confuse. Termites have four wings of equal size, antennae that are bead-like, and a broad waist. Ants have hind wings shorter than the forewings, elbowed or kinked antennae, and a pinched waist. Ants also usually bend at the waist when they die, whereas termites remain straight bodied.

Subterranean termites swarm in February, but will swarm in later months if weather conditions are right. They also swarm in high humidity, before or after a good rain storm. If we continue to have rain like we have, expect to find termites swarming somewhere.