Termites are very social insects that thrive in colonies. They swarm and mate once a year in order to spread their colony across the landscape.
They can be hard to distinguish from other flying insects, such as ants. Fortunately, there are some key differences that can help you recognize winged termites.
Characteristics of Termite Wings
Termites have many characteristics that make them distinct from other insects. One of the most notable is their wings. Unlike ants, termites have two sets of wings that are equal in size and shape. These wings are often translucent and may be veined.
Generally, these wings are used to fly around and search for a mate. Once they have mated, they will shed their wings so that they can begin building a new colony.
In addition to the fact that they have wings, termites also have three other body parts – a head, thorax and abdomen. Their thorax and abdomen do not have a pinch between them like an ant’s does, making it easier to identify them.
A swarmer, or alate, is a reproductive member of a termite colony and can be found in a variety of colors. They range from colorless to almost translucent to gray or brown. They also have many wing veins, which can help identify them.
Reproductives in a colony include winged primary reproductives called alates or swarmers and wingless secondary reproductives, also known as pheromone nymphs. Depending on the termite species, these nymphs develop into workers or soldier nymphs when they reach maturity.
Worker termites are soft bodied, white and act as guards for the colony. They have enlarged brownish heads and strong, well-developed jaws for defense.
Soldiers are smaller than workers and defend the colony against predatory enemies, such as ants. They have enlarged heads and may have a snout that can spray a repellent liquid.
While swarmers may appear at any time of the year, the emergence of a swarm is most common during spring or summer when termites are ready to mate and establish a new colony. Various factors, including the species of termite and geographic location, can cause swarms to occur.
Termite swarmers are usually 1/8 to 1/4 inch long, with light-brown to yellow-tan bodies and two sets of wings. They can be found in drywood forests or subterranean forests.
When you find a termite swarm, you should bring it indoors and check it carefully for any signs of damage. If you find any, call a pest control service for an inspection.
Wing Venation Patterns
Termites have wings that are used for short-term flights to find new places to build nests. After they have swarmed and mated, the wings are shed and are no longer needed. This is why you can sometimes find discarded wings in piles near doors or windows that termites may have entered through.
Typically, the wings of termites are around 0.5 to 1 inch (1.3 to 2.5 cm) in length and are usually gray or brown. The size of a termite’s wings is also dependent on the species, with older reproductive termites having larger wings than younger ones.
One of the most common wing features is venation, which consists of a network of veins that extend from the wing’s center to its margin. These veins are usually branched or cross-branched, and some of them can be extremely long.
The venation patterns of termite wings are quite similar to those of many other insects, and the patterns often overlap. However, the venation patterns of termites differ from those of other insects in several key ways.
First, a termite wing has two main areas that support the wing: the anterior region, which is supported by veins called the remigium, and the flexible posterior area, which is supported by the vannus. Both regions are separated by a fold.
Another characteristic of termite wings is that they are generally orange-brown in color, with some species being smoky brown or dark green in color. This contrast between the colors of the wings can help you identify different termite species.
In addition, termite wings are usually relatively long, as compared to other insect wings, and the wing tips are not very sharp or pointed. These features are important for the termite’s ability to grip and transport food.
Termite larvae and nymphs develop along a pathway that is very similar to that of hymenopterans, although they do not have molting glands. During the larval and nymphal stages, termites develop into alate imagoes and other permanent castes such as soldiers and workers.
The venation pattern of termite wings is relatively complex and varies widely between species. This is because the termite’s wings are very sensitive to the environment and are therefore subjected to changes in temperature and pressure. This leads to changes in the wing’s structure and wing venation.
Termite wings are an important aspect of termite anatomy. Wings allow termites to swarm out from their colonies and form new colonies. They are also an important part of termite ecology.
Depending on the species, termite wings can be iridescent or metallic in appearance. This iridescence is caused by light reflecting off the wings and refracting back to create a shimmery effect.
Some termite species, including drywood termites, have iridescent wings that look like a metallic sheen. These iridescent wings are more noticeable in the sun or when looking at them from a distance.
Other termite wings have a more subtle sheen that’s similar to the color of the insects themselves. Termite wings are also often translucent, making it easy to see the veins along their length.
The shape of termite wings is an important element of identification. The wings are usually large and have a distinctive “V” shape when viewed from the side.
To distinguish termite wings from those of flying ants, examine the insect closely. Both swarmers have wings, but flying ants have a broad, one-section body with a pinched waist that separates the thorax from the abdomen. Termites have a pinched waist, too, but their thorax is broadly joined to their abdomen.
Another way to distinguish termite wings from those of a flying ant is to look at the antennae. Termites’ antennae are straight, while flying ants’ antennae are bent.
Besides the antennae, you should also look at the thorax to determine if it’s a termite or an ant. Termite thorax are typically broad and uniform in size, while ant thoraces are smaller and more segmented.
It’s also important to note that termite wings are a different color than those of a flying ant. Flying ants have dark black or red wings, while termite wings are usually pale white or brown.
Termite wings are also a good way to tell the difference between swarmers and workers. While workers are a common termite found infesting homes, swarmers are reproductive members of a colony and are responsible for leaving the nest to mate and start new colonies. Swarmers, or alates, are often seen swarming around window sills and outside lights because of their attraction to light. Swarmers will eventually turn into the queens and kings of the next colony.
Termite wings are hard, ribbed and have raised veins that help them stiffen. These veins also serve as a guide for the wings during flight, helping to ensure they don’t bend or fold.
The texture of termite wings varies by species and morph. The wing is usually elongated, with a pointed tip at one end and a thicker, harder front edge called the costa at the other.
Subterranean termites have more prominent veins on their wings, with numerous cross-veins forming a series of rectangular cells. Dampwood termites have fewer veins and a simpler pattern of cells.
Workers, the insects that are responsible for most termite damage, have creamy-white or pale brown bodies with small heads and large, well-developed mandibles (jaws). Soldiers look like worker termites, but they have larger heads and larger, hardened mandibles.
Flying termites are a common pest that can cause structural damage to homes and other buildings. They are often mistaken for ants, but there are several differences between the two that can help you identify them.
The first difference is that termite wings are longer than flying ants’ wings. Termite wings also have straight antennae, while flying ants’ antennae are bent.
Another significant difference is that termite wings are uniform in width from their head to the end of their abdomens, while ant wings are more clearly segmented. The termite body also has a thick waist that is about as wide as the rest of its body.
Finally, winged termites have four equally sized wings, whereas ants have two sets of wings that are different lengths and three body segments with a narrow waist.
If you see swarms of winged termites in or around your home, it’s likely that they’re looking for a new place to live. These termites can be very hard to distinguish from other swarming insects, so it’s important to get your home inspected by a professional pest control company as soon as possible.
If you’re concerned about a potential termite infestation in your home, contact the professionals at McCall Service to schedule a free inspection. We’ll be happy to help you understand the problem and find the right solution for your unique needs.