Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rain brings Flying Creatures

Myself, the chickens, the doggies (Daisy and Herbie) and Dilly,
the cat, had a nice visit and play day with a friends’ daughter named Emily.

Besides loving to grow plants, Emily loves animals.
While here we enjoyed watching a nice
rain shower from our back porch.
Yeah Rain!
Too bad my camera couldn't pick up the reflection of all the winged insects flying
between raindrops other than a few white splotches here in front of the chicken coop.
Amazingly in every direction we saw small winged creatures
filling the air, every which way we looked,
flying upward between the raindrops.

Once wet, insects shed their wings.
Emily caught a couple of the winged bugs,
so we could get a close-up look at them
to try and figure out what they were. 

Wingless Desert Termite.
After further investigation (in the rain) we found the winged bugs launching themselves from atop small hills made up of little pale yellow/white bugs piled up on top of each other coming from underneath the ground.

I learned later from several friends, they saw the same thing where they lived some 20 to 40 miles away from here.

Thanks to Professor and Extension Entomologist, Dr. Chris Sansone, Associate Dept. Head and Program Leader Extension Entomology of San Angelo, TX, who responded to my query “Are these termites and are they the bad kind? What can we do about them if anything?”

His email response was “They are termites but they are the desert termite or agricultural termite.

Maybe you've seen evidence like this of the desert termite.
They eat pasture grasses.
They do not impact buildings (but will eat pasture grasses and will cover up fences and trees). They feed on the surface of wood but do not drill into the wood."

Dr. Sansone sent a very informative link/handout that I have included with his permission to share detailing the Desert Termite, describing the biology of desert termites, explaining how to distinguish them from ants and other termite species, along with tips for managing them.

I also found The Texas Bug Book by Malcolm Beck and Howard Garrett (2000, p. 137) outlines a safe and effective approach for preventing termites including subterranean termites, the ones that are more destructive (in place of toxic chemicals.)