Many pool owners take pride in keeping the pool sparkling clear. It’s not only aesthetically pleasing but is also inviting for family and friends to take a dip.
While a properly balanced pool is often able to accommodate a large amount of rain without ruining that crystal blue water, there are some unique situations that may still result such as seeing tiny black bugs in the pool. One of the more concerning instances is finding termites in the pool after rain.
Termites around the house are often associated with trouble. While termites play a significant recycling role in nature they can quickly decimate any wood in sight, such as decks and foundations.
Finding termites in the pool after rain can quickly cause owners to wonder if they have an infestation on their property.
In this post we’ll look at why you may find termites in the pool after rain, and how to get rid of these insects. We’ll also look at ways to help prevent termites from invading your pool to begin with.
Let’s dive in!
What Are Termites
Termites are small insects that are known for their ability to feed on and digest wood and other plant materials, making them important decomposers in ecosystems. Their appearance may resemble larger ants, as some species can grow up to an inch in size.
They live in colonies that can range from a few hundred individuals to several million. These insects can develop wings once a colony has matured, and they are ready to expand to new locations.
Similar to bees and ants, termites have a caste system. This means that different individuals perform specific roles within the colony, including soldiers, workers and king and queen.
Workers make up the majority of the termite colony and are responsible for tasks such as foraging for food, building and repairing the nest, and caring for the young.
Termites are often considered pests because they can cause significant damage to wooden structures and buildings. They feed on cellulose, a component of wood, and can ruin the structural integrity of wooden structures.
Types of Termites
There are over 2,500 species of termites across the world, about 50 of which can be found in the United States. Most of the different species share a common interest in wood and moisture.
In the U.S., three of the most common types of termites are:
This family of termites live in underground colonies and rely on moisture from the soil. They form mud tubes to travel between colonies and while looking for food.
Subterranean termites feed on wood, and can cause catastrophic damage to wood structures around the home. Their colonies can grow upwards of 2 million individual termites.
Drywood termites feed on dry non-decaying wood, such as fences, decks, patios, and stored lumber. They don’t require much moisture or soil and will get the water they need from the wood.
Their colonies are generally smaller than subterranean termites, but can still wreak havoc on structures over time. Infestations can be challenging to detect because the termites do not build visible mud tubes or tunnels like subterranean termites do.
Dampwood termites infest on damp or decaying wood. Presence of these termites often indicates wood that is in contact with the ground, or wood that is consistently being exposed to moisture through other sources, such as a leaky pipe.
In most situations, dampwood termites are not a major concern to cause structural damage since they are attracted to damp wood.
Why Are There Termites in Pool After Rain?
Finding termites floating in the pool after a heavy rainfall is not a sight that most pool owners expect to see. Termites often remain out of visibility, so finding them cluttering up the pool can be surprising.
Most species of termites live in colonies underground or in wooden material, such as tree stumps. Over time, a single colony can become home to many individual termites.
As colonies mature, they begin to produce reproductive termites that have wings. Rain can be a signal to mature colonies that it’s mating season. Other factors that can drive timing of their mating season include humidity and temperature.
After a rainfall, swarms of winged termites may suddenly appear from nowhere. Termites don’t fly for long distances, so if you see them actively flying around the yard, they’re probably looking for somewhere to settle.
As the swarms of termites fly around for mates, it’s possible that they may find their way into the pool. Afterall, termites thrive in moist environments, so a body of water like a pool may seem attractive on their mating journey.
Unfortunately for termites they are not able to swim and can drown if in the water for too long. Their wings are also prone to falling off during mating, in which case they would no longer be able to fly out of the pool.
Pools also often have wood objects nearby, such as trees, decks, fences or pergolas. These may further entice termites to the area as potential sources of food.
Lighting around the pool, or even reflecting off the water, can also attract termites. It’s possible that once the rain has ceased, light bouncing off the water may draw them in for a swim.
The landscape design surrounding your pool can also increase the risk of termites in the pool. For example, wooden pathways or garden beds full of wood mulch may attract them to build colonies near the pool.
What Types of Termites Fly into the Pool After Rain
After heavy rainfall, flying termite swarmers also known as alates, may emerge in search of a mate. These swarmers are the reproductive-type of termites.
The specific type of termites that may fly into the pool can vary depending on the region. In many cases across the United States, the swarmers belong to the subterranean termite species.
Termite swarmers are attracted to light and are often seen flying in large numbers during daylight or early evening hours after rainfall. They are typically winged and have a different appearance compared to the worker and soldier castes.
While termite swarmers may be attracted to pools or other water sources during their dispersal flights, they don’t generally pose a direct threat to the pool itself. However, it is an indication that there may be a termite colony nearby since they don’t fly long distances.
Can Termites Damage a Pool?
Termite workers are often sent out in search of new sources of food and water. If termite colonies are near the pool, it’s possible that the workers will detect water in either the pool or plumbing lines.
Most pools are constructed of synthetic materials, such as vinyl and PVC. While the synthetic materials are not a food source for termites, they can chew holes through these materials in order to reach the water they desire.
Termite holes in the pool may start out small and go unnoticed. But, over time more termites may continue to be drawn to the water source and could drill additional holes that will result in larger leakage.
Beyond damaging the pool and plumbing lines, termites may target wood materials that are nearby. If termites severely damage adjacent wood structures, it could cause safety hazards or structural issues around the pool.
How to Get Rid of Termites in Pool
Finding termites in the pool is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly, but also isn’t always an emergency.
If you find termites floating in the pool, you can simply get rid of them similar to that of any other insects or debris in the pool. The pool’s built-in skimmer, along with a skimmer net and vacuum are handy tools to remove them from the water as an immediate action.
Before getting rid of the termites, it’s worth performing a close inspection of them.
If the termites in the water have wings, it’s likely that they flew into the pool while searching for mates. Winged termites would be less likely to damage the pool than scavenger termites that may be chewing through materials while looking for food and water.
If a bunch of wingless termites are in the pool, this may signify that a nearby colony is sending scavengers to look for food and water. This scenario can be a bit more concerning as the scavengers could chew holes into the pool or plumbing as they look to expand the colony closer to the pool.
Once removed from the water, a thorough inspection of your property is warranted to look for signs of termite colonies. Tell-tale signs include mud tubes, damaged wood, or even discarded termite wings laying around.
While winged termites may not be as imminently invading the pool area as wingless ones, they can still signify colonies nearby. Winged termites typically only fly a few yards, so a colony could still be in the vicinity of the pool.
How to Prevent Termites in Pool
Since termites around the yard can be pretty dangerous, prevention is the key. Fortunately, there are some steps that can be taken to block termites before or after pool construction to help protect your property.
After building your pool, you can also follow several tips to help keep the area termite-free.
Here are some tips to prevent the termites from infesting the pool.
If you have an in-ground pool, the area should be treated before constructing the pool to prevent termites from attacking it. In addition, the soil should be treated with a potent repellent to keep termites away.
The repellent is likely to last some time because it will be protected from the elements by the pool foundation.
If you have an above-ground pool, using a termite repellant underneath and around the liner can be useful as well. However, re-application may be needed periodically if the area is exposed to the weather elements.
Regular inspection is needed even if you’ve taken good preventative measures. It will help you detect the earliest signs of termites before the problem gets worse.
Here are some things to do to keep your pool area free of termites.
- Seal the wood in the pool area to help keep it dry and minimize wood-to-ground contact.
- Treat wood structures with borate spray to help prevent damage from insects.
- Try to keep vegetation away from wooden structures because they represent the primary habitat of termites.
- Replace wood mulch with hard landscaping, such as rocks.
- Clean drainage systems periodically to remove trapped water.
- Inspect your landscape regularly to deal with stagnant water.
- Keep the pool area clean, as termites can feed on any cellulose found in paper, cartons, or other items in your garbage, in addition to wood.
- Regularly treat the pool area and surrounding soil with termite insecticide.
- Use commercial self-help kits to treat a minor infestation, or seek professional help if the termites are getting out of control.
How to Tell the Difference Between Termites and Flying Ants
Winged termites and flying ants are often mistaken for each other due to their similar appearance. Knowing how to tell the difference between termites and flying ants may play a role in your action plan if you find them floating in the pool.
Fortunately, there are several distinguishing characteristics that can help differentiate between the two:
Termites have a straight, thick waist and a broad, straight-sided body. In contrast, flying ants have a distinct pinched waist, with a narrow midsection separating their thorax and abdomen.
Both termites and flying ants have two pairs of wings.
However, termite wings are uniform in size and shape, with equal-length wings. Flying ants have front wings that are larger than the hind wings, and they have distinct vein patterns on their wings.
Termites often have straight, beaded antennae. Flying ants have elbowed or bent antennae.
Behavior and Habitat
Observing these insects in their habitat can clue you in on whether it’s a termite or ant.
Termites are known for their wood-eating habits and typically live in underground colonies or within the wood they consume. Flying ants, on the other hand, are not destructive and often build nests in soil or wood, but they do not consume wood like termites.
Both termites and flying ants engage in swarming behavior during mating seasons, but their swarming patterns differ.
Termite swarms are typically larger in numbers and occur more frequently, often triggered by warm, humid weather conditions. Flying ant swarms tend to be smaller and less frequent.
Unlike pill bugs, termites are often considered a serious threat to homeowners. They can form massive colonies that remain out of sight, while eating away at wood structures.
Termites can seem to suddenly appear after rain as it can be a signal of mating season. In some cases, the first appearance of termites may actually be in your pool.
These creatures are fond of moisture, and the area around your pool has two things that they need to survive; water and wood.
If you’re faced with termites in the pool, they are easy enough to remove from the water using standard pool cleaning tools. However, finding them in the pool often indicates that colonies are nearby.
There are a few things you can do before and after constructing your pool to keep it termite-free, but it’s crucial to keep an eye on everything for the earliest signs of termites. This will help you deal with the situation before it gets worse.
Happy (pest-free) Swimming!
Husband and father of three (actually, four if you include the pool). I’m an avid DIY-er and weekend warrior that enjoys taking up new projects around the house to help us maximize leisure right at home. I enjoy researching and sharing various tips, tricks and knowledge to help others make their home an oasis.