ANECPLA: Ants or winged termites? A confusion that can be very costly


- With the arrival of spring, winged termites leave their home termite mounds to establish new colonies and expand.

- Very similar in appearance to the harmless winged ants, with which they also coincide at the same time of year, termites often go unnoticed, which can cause irreparable damage.

- The National Association of Environmental Health Companies (ANECPLA) warns of the importance of being alert to this risk and focuses on prevention to avoid tragic consequences.

Madrid, 16 June 2021 - The destructive power of termites is enormous. With a length of just a few millimetres, these insects are capable of causing the collapse of everything from imposing buildings to solemn cathedrals. Their destructive process is constant and silent. They are very difficult to detect until their impact has already caused irreparable damage.

Termites represent a real threat all over Spain. Around one and a half million buildings - including both houses and historic buildings - have wooden structures. More than 90% of them are located in the historic centres of major cities. And it is estimated that a high percentage of them are already seriously affected, with obvious risks to public health.

The key time to prevent their devastating effects is precisely at this time of the year when winged termites leave their reference termite mound to establish new colonies and expand. For this reason, ANECPLA warns of the importance of being alert to these movements in order to prevent greater evils. Its deputy director-general, Jorge Galván, explains: "with the arrival of spring and the stabilisation of temperature and humidity at average levels, winged termites leave termite mounds by the hundreds, in a process called 'swarming', with the aim of founding new colonies in areas where there is often no previous sign of termite presence".

To know how to detect them properly and take the appropriate measures, it is important to know how to differentiate them from winged ants, with which they are usually confused. Galván explains that "one of the main differences between the two species is the size of their body in proportion to their wings. The fact is that

while the body of winged termites is half the size of their wings, the body length of winged ants is slightly less than that of their wings. In addition, the black colour of the wings, the straight antennae and the absence of a narrowing between the thorax and abdomen of winged termites are three other characteristics that help to distinguish them from ants with transparent wings, angled antennae and a pronounced narrowing between the thorax and abdomen.

Places lacking ventilation, damp and generally lacking maintenance and cleanliness are the ideal habitat for their settlement. In terms of prevention, ANECPLA recommends, among other measures, controlling that there is no dampness in dwellings and, in the event of flooding, the affected area should be dried as quickly as possible by means of ventilation and heat so that termites do not attack skirting boards, parquet or door frames.

In this sense, and before any suspicion of the presence of winged termites at this time of year, ANECPLA reminds us of the importance of contacting pest management professionals who will know how to identify the exact species and apply the consequent control measures according to their biological cycle, with the least impact on both people's health and the environment. "We are at the only time of the year when we can stop the devastating consequences that termites can have on our buildings," says Galván. "It is important to be on alert.

Membership benefits