When you think of termites, you probably envision subterranean termites tunneling through mud tubes and dry wood. But there are also some species of termites that can fly.
These are called winged termites, or alates. Their role in a termite colony is to mate and set up new colonies.
Termites are social insects that live in colonies with overlapping generations and a division of labor among different castes. The three major castes of adult termites are workers, soldiers and reproductives.
These three castes are all different in appearance and function. The workers are the smallest and look almost like larvae with their soft bodies. They feed and groom the other castes, build and repair the nest, excavate and chew wood for food that they bring back to the colony and share with the other termites.
They also eat the cellulose-containing materials in plant products that they digest using a one-celled animal (protozoan) that lives in their digestive system. This process, called phagocytosis, makes them a great forager of wood and fungus.
Their wings are a good way for them to fly around and find their mates. Termites with wings are known as alates and can be distinguished from their non-winged siblings by looking at the shape of their bodies and the color of their wings.
The wings of reproductive termites are usually smoky gray to brown and lack wing veins. Termite wings are also longer than the body, with a distinct waistline that separates them into two sections.
A swarm of termite wings that is flying near your home might indicate an active infestation. This swarm is made up of reproductive termites that are seeking a mate and a new colony to establish.
Swarming occurs during the breeding season of the termites and typically takes place in the spring and summer. These swarms may come from subterranean termite colonies or drywood termite colonies.
During swarming, termites are found in large numbers, and may be hard to spot. Often, these swarmers are attracted to lights and head toward them.
In some cases, the swarmers are seen in small piles of wings on windowsills or outside of doors. This is a common sign that termites are searching for a mate, and it can be a good indication of a termite problem.
Winged termites are most likely to be seen when they swarm during the breeding season or when they’re ready to shed their wings for the next stage of their life cycle. A swarm of winged termites can be hard to miss, so if you see a group of them, make sure to take a close look at the wings. If you can’t place a single termite, don’t hesitate to call in a pest professional to identify and eliminate the source of the infestation.
Termites with wings, also known as alates, are the reproductive caste members of termite colonies. They are responsible for seeking mates, laying eggs and starting new colonies.
Typically, flying termites leave the nest in large swarms to seek mates. These swarms are most common in spring when the weather gets warmer and rain is plentiful.
When a swarm is ready to mate, the female alates release “mating pheromones,” which are like perfume to entice males to join them on their mating flight. Once they find an appealing mate, the pair break off their wings and travel to a new place to establish their own colony.
The wing of a flying termite is shaped elongated, with a pointed end and a thicker front edge that provides support during flight. The wings are ribbed in texture and have raised veins that run parallel to the wing length.
Both subterranean and drywood termites have wings that are similar in appearance. Subterranean wings are characterized by numerous cross-veins forming a series of rectangular cells, while drywood wings have fewer veins and a simpler pattern of cells.
They are about 0.5 to 1 inch long (1.3 to 2.5 cm). The length of the wing depends on the species and the age of the termite, but generally, older reproductive termites have longer wings than younger ones.
Termites with wings are not very fast, and they usually don’t compete for speed. Termites with wings are often found around light fixtures and windowsills, because they’re attracted to the light when they’re in a nuptial flight.
These insects are not dangerous to humans, but they can cause damage to homes and other structures if left unchecked. If you notice a winged termite, it is important to contact a pest control professional immediately for identification and treatment.
Another sign of an active infestation is a large number of termites that are emerging from the home’s foundation or mud tunnels in the lower part of the house. In addition to these visible signs, a home with an active termite infestation will likely also have numerous alates inside that are actively laying eggs and finding mates.
In the springtime, termites with wings will leave their nests to find a mate and a place where they can start a new colony. This is called a “nuptial flight.” Swarms are usually produced by subterranean termites, but drywood termites can also swarm.
After leaving their nest, swarmers flutter around for a while before landing on a suitable site where they can find moisture and food. They then burrow down into soil, build a chamber and begin mating.
Swarmers can live for over a decade under the right conditions. During this time, they produce offspring that become workers and soldiers. They eventually breed to become queens and kings of their own colonies.
Once the swarmers have found their mate, they will then begin building a new termite colony. They typically do not cause any structural damage to buildings. They are mostly concerned with finding a source of moisture and food to feed their offspring.
If you notice a swarm of termites flying outside, you may want to consider calling in a pest control specialist. They can take a closer look at the swarm to see whether it is termites or another insect.
While many people think that swarming termites fly a distance, they are actually very slow fliers. They can travel up to half a mile, but they are not particularly good at it.
You can spot a swarm by looking for discarded wings near the entry point of your home, such as a door or window sill. Swarming termites will have temporary wings that fall off as soon as they land.
Unlike ants, which have front wings that are much larger than their hind wings, termites have only one set of wings on each side of their bodies. This gives them a distinctive appearance.
A swarming termite might seem like an alarming sight, but it’s important to remember that they are not trying to attack you or harm your property. They simply need to find a new nest to mate in and create a colony nearby.
Termites are an extremely common problem in the United States and are found throughout most parts of the world. It is estimated that there are over 300 species of termites. If you are concerned about an infestation in your home, request a free inspection.
A flying termite swarm can be a very alarming sight. They look like a swirling cloud of hundreds of dandelion seeds, and to the untrained eye, they may seem to be causing structural damage.
However, the swarmers are only looking for a place to nest and do not pose any threat to human health or safety. They are a normal part of the termite population and can often be seen in the spring, when most termite colonies begin to swarm.
Usually a swarm of termites is not cause for concern, but if you notice swarmers in your home, it’s a good idea to get your house checked out by a pest control professional. They will look for evidence of termite activity such as mud tubes in the construction joints, and they may also check out any timbers that are in contact with your soil.
Winged termites are reproductive members of a colony, and their wings enable them to leave the nest to mate. They are referred to as alates, and they typically have two pairs of wings that are similar in size.
They mate with another alate and then fly off in search of a suitable place to settle. After they find a place, they land and break off their wings. This process usually happens in a matter of minutes, and the newly de-winged swarmers start searching for a suitable place to start a new colony.
Once they find a suitable spot, they then dig out a chamber in which to breed and construct their new colony. Their swarming flight is a very important time in the life cycle of a termite, as it signals the beginning of their mating season and the search for a new location to build their nest.
If they cannot find a suitable location, they will start to die within a few hours. Swarming termites will usually die of dehydration and may be left behind on a window sill or other surfaces in your home.
Termites are known to cause billions of dollars in damage to buildings each year, and they can continue to cause more damage for years before it is detected. They can eat away at the cellulose in wood, and they will scout out any damaged areas in your building to locate new food sources.