Since nobody guessed or even seemed remotely interested, I can only assume that you have seen these before. If you have, sorry. However, I would advice that you read on, because you will be shocked!! I still am and I know what they are.
Remember, these things came from mud tunnels that "grew" within a day or two. The official name is a "mud tube". As I was looking for the type of spider that bit my daughter, I found a picture of the exact mud tubes that were growing around my water heater. I kept smashing them, and the bugs that looked just like the picture on the right (both ant-size) came crawling out. Two days later, a new tube was built.
Are you tired of the suspense? They are termites. The technical term for the ones that were in my house are "swarmers". Did you assume that all termites looked like this?
Now want to hear the good news? (I know, there can't be "termites" and "good news" in the same sentence unless it's accompanied my the words "extended prepaid vacation to Hawaii.")
The good news is that swarmers do not eat the wood in your house. They are the benevolent first sign of a colony about to encroach. Apparently, they are looking for a nice place to start a new colony and I didn't let them. However, NOW LISTEN CAREFULLY, most people get rid of the swarmers and never find out what they were, or think that they have single-handedly scared away the termites. Not so. They will come back, just through another entry. By then, the soldier termites will have started to eat your home.
I can not believe how everything played out in our favor; To find the mud tubes, to happen upon the picture telling me what they were, and after getting the termite treatment, finding out that there was no other infestation, and that the swarmers are really a good warning of what to get a jump on. It really was a blessing.
So, class- to review:
your first exposure to termites will most likely be a swarmer. They look like winged ants. Note the differences in the following chart.
Swarmers build mud tubes near warm, moist areas in your basement or around foundation walls. This is a great time to catch them. Act fast and don't assume they are gone, just because the tube is gone.
Thank you for joining me. I hope to never share a story like this again. Happy hunting.