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Despite their name, groundhogs can climb, and how to tell an ant from a termite

Despite their name, groundhogs can climb, and how to tell an ant from a termite
While better know for burrowing, groundhogs can climb, too. (Carol Dudley / Handout)

What is this? At first I thought it was a squirrel, but it has a short tail. It came down from the tree when I wasn’t there, so I didn’t see where it went.

Groundhogs are surprisingly good climbers. They aren’t known for being cute either, but this young one sure is. It indicates an established burrow in the area, though perhaps not on your property. You won’t want it to move in. Groundhogs are fond of burrowing under porch or shed slabs, and from there they can climb over garden fences to munch on vegetables. Keep an eye out for a starter burrow with lots of soil kicked out. It’s best to discourage groundhogs before they get established. Search ‘groundhogs’ on the University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center website.

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My sunroom was inundated with ants this spring, and now I have a reappearance of small brown ants with wings. The wings are about the same size as the body, not longer than the body as in my reference picture for termites. Are these baby termites or just ants with wings?

Both winged ants and termites have wings longer than their bodies, though termite wings are much longer. One way to distinguish ants from termites is: Ants look “uneven”, termites look “even.” Ant bodies pinch to almost nothing at the waist, their antenna are crooked, and winged ants have two sets of wings that are different lengths. Termite bodies, on the other hand, are the same width end to end, antenna are straight, and all wings are the same length. You are always welcome to send us some clear photos. The good news is that ants drive termites away. To get ants out of your home, search ‘ants’ on the Home and Garden Information Center website. To identify, search ‘ants vs termites.’

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at extension.umd.edu/hgic. Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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