Prepared by Maher Jabado (www.maherjabado.com)
Termites can cause major structural damage
to homes and other buildings as well as wooden
furniture. People usually only see termites
inside when an infestation is already well
established, though you may also find termites
outside around dead tree stumps, rotting
boards or other detritus. Termite colonies
are divided into different classes, and most
termites only come out in the dark. The most
common class that you will see outside of
the colony is the alate class, or winged
termites. Winged termites are a reproductive
class and they swarm before they mate. You
can identify termites through their body
shape, legs and wings.
Step 1:Catch a termite, or the insect you think is a termite, in a small jar from winged termite swarms, or pick one off of the floor after it has shed its wings. Termites may swarm inside a building if there is an infestation, or you may see them swarming around windows or doors at night as they are attracted to light.
Step 2:Examine the body shape for a broad waist and a soft body. Many people have difficulty telling the difference between termites and ant. A winged ant will have a narrow waist, similar to a wasp. Termites also have soft bodies and will not have any body armor.
Note the black or dark brown color of the body in the winged insect versus the white color of worker termites. You may find worker termites in a termite dirt tube, will usually be white and almost translucent. Dirt tubes are soil colored and usually the diameter of a pencil. You may find these on the exterior of infested buildings. You can cut a tube open to check for termites.
Look at the straight antennae. In comparison, an ant's antennae will be bent, or "elbowed
Measure the termite by placing the insect on a piece of paper in front of a ruler. Winged subterranean termites are typically about 3/8 an inch (.95 cm) long. Workers will be smaller, and there will be variations in size between species
Step 6:Count and examine the six short and stubby legs.
Step 7:Check the termite has 4 equally sized wings that are double of its body. Winged ants have wings that has a span of their bodies and the front pair of wings on winged ants is larger than their back wings.
Check for wing stubs if the termite has already shed its wings. A termite will have small stubs that stick out from the body where the wings were attached.
Use a magnifying glass to examine the patterns on the wings. Subterranean termites usually have 2 major veins on their wings and few cross veins. Drywood termites, which form their colonies within wood instead of soil, have 3 major veins and many cross veins in their wings.