When you see flying termites, your first instinct might be to reach for the can of fly spray. But that could be a mistake.
Winged termites, also called alates, are the reproductive members of a colony that are capable of starting new colonies. During the swarming process, alates shed their wings and pair off using pheromones.
Termites with wings are often mistaken for flying ants, and many homeowners panic when they see them. But if you look closely at their wings, it’s easy to tell the difference. Unlike the narrower-waisted wings of carpenter ants, termite wings are translucent and equal in size. If you spot discarded wings around your home, or see a swarm of them outside, it’s a good idea to get in touch with Waltham for a termite inspection.
Those discarded wings are evidence of termite swarming, an annual activity that signals the colony’s mating season. During this time, reproductive termites (known as swarmers) leave the nest to find mates and establish new colonies elsewhere. The swarmers are poor fliers and shed their wings soon after mating, leaving them with only six legs like non-winged termites.
Winged termites are typically dark brown to black, though they can also be light tan or white. They have wide bodies without pinched waists and straight antennae, and their wings are about twice as long as their body. Their wings are flat with a uniform texture, and they can appear shiny or metallic in certain lighting conditions. The venation pattern on termite wings is distinct, with drywood and subterranean species having different patterns.
While swarmers can be a sign of a serious problem, it’s important to remember that not every termite swarming incident leads to a full-blown infestation. A solitary flyer may just be passing through a residential area on its way to the nearest termite colony. And if you do see several swarmers in your house, they probably won’t be there very long as they quickly run out of energy during their frenzied swarming dance.
Once swarmers lose their wings, they settle down to become workers that build the colony and search for food. The other termites in a colony are soldiers, which have yellow-brown or pale red coloring and large mandibles for defending the colony against predators and other threats. The king and queen of a termite colony can live for decades, so it’s important to identify and treat problems early.
If you spot a winged termite swarm, it’s likely that there is an active termite colony nearby. Swarms of termites with wings are produced when a subterranean termite colony reaches a certain size. After a few years, the colony will produce male and female alates (termites with wings) that will seek out mates and start new colonies. The swarming process usually takes place in the spring.
Termites with wings are not good fliers and can’t travel very far from their original nest. They typically fly in a group and congregate around light sources such as street lamps or windows. Swarmers can also be attracted to moisture, which is why they’re often found near wood structures such as homes or barns.
Flying termites are easily mistaken for flying ants, but there are some differences that you should keep in mind when identifying them. For one, flying ants have wings that are all of the same size, while termites have wings that are twice as long as their bodies. Also, ant antennae are more segmented than termite antennas.
As for body shape, termites have a tube-like body that’s a uniform width from head to abdomen. In contrast, ants have more clearly defined waists and thinner bodies.
Swarms of termites with wings can be seen in the soil or on the surface of wood, depending on where the colony is located. You may also see mud tubes on the outside of your home, which are hollow corridors of mud and dirt that termites use to tunnel from the ground to wood they’re infesting.
While swarms of termites with wings may seem alarming, they’re not necessarily indicative of a severe infestation. It’s important to look for other signs of termite infestation such as discarded wings, mud tubes, and actual termite damage before calling in an exterminator. If you notice any of these indicators, contact a professional termite control specialist right away. Griffin Pest Solutions can wipe out the termites using our Sentricon treatment system and help prevent them from returning. Contact us for a free quote today.
The winged termites that you see invading your home often look like oversized ants with wings. This similarity is a major reason why the presence of these pests worries so many homeowners. However, identifying the difference between flying ants and flying termites is essential. After all, the latter can cause serious damage to your home and property.
In general, flying termites are lighter in color than ants and have two pairs of equal-sized wings. Their bodies are also more uniform in width from their head to the end of their abdomens. In contrast, ant bodies are more segmented with a distinct waist. In addition, winged termites’ antennae are straight, while ant antennae bend at 90-degree angles.
During the mating season, sexually mature termites with wings leave their colony in large numbers to mate and establish new colonies. These termites are known as swarmers. During swarming, female termites (or potential queens) release a pheromone that attracts male alates from nearby colonies. Once a pair finds their match, they break off their wings and join together to become the king and queen of a new termite colony.
Once a new colony is established, workers, soldiers and nymphs take over foraging and tunneling. These are the termites that eat and destroy wood, causing billions of dollars in damage to homes across the country each year. Worker termites are pale white and have identical pairs of wings, while nymphs are dark-colored with a transparent appearance.
Soldiers are larger than nymphs and workers, with yellow-brown coloring and imposing mandibles for defending the colony. They also have straight antennae and a thicker, harder front edge to their wings.
The distinctive wings of a termite are elongated with a pointed tip at one end and a thicker, hardened front edge called the costa. The costa is ridged with raised veins that help to stiffen the wing and prevent it from bending during flight. The wing is then covered by another layer of thinner, more translucent wings. The outer layer of wings is patterned with a series of rectangular cells.
When you see flying termites, it’s a good idea to keep your eye on them until they land somewhere safe and disappear. They’re scouts, envoys from an underground world, seeking out potential places to colonize and start reproducing.
Swarms of winged termites are usually provoked by heavy rainfall, warm and moist conditions, or both. The termite colonies that produce swarmers are mature, meaning they’ve reached the point where their reproduction cycle has kicked in. The swarmers are male and female alates that acquire wings when they reach maturity, then set out to find mates. If the pair successfully mate, they’ll drop their wings and settle down to start a new colony.
It’s important to distinguish these termites from other insects that also have wings and swarm, such as carpenter ants and mayflies. The main distinction is that a termite’s wings are both the same length, while ants’ wings have unequal lengths. Additionally, a termite’s antenna are straight while ant’s antenna are bent.
Termites move through the wood in search of food, making them particularly adept at tunneling. As a result, they’re often found in rotten or damp wood, such as stumps, tree limbs, fence posts and deck boards. They’ll also make their way into your home if the conditions are right, which can cause serious damage.
To prevent termites, it’s best to use pressure-treated wood for any outdoor structures and avoid letting wood contact soil, which encourages infestation. In addition, homeowners should make sure soffit vents are completely sealed and that any wooden furniture or garden fence posts are treated with a termiticide barrier.
If you spot a swarm of flying termites in your home, it’s a good idea to call a pest control specialist. Don’t squirt them with insect spray, though; that won’t do any good, and it could actually encourage the termites to move elsewhere. Instead, a pest control expert will examine your property and devise the appropriate action plan.