A lot of people ask do termites fly? And the answer is yes. There are flying termites, and they’re just as destructive as their grounded counterparts. What’s really interesting is that these flying pests look a lot like flying ants, and many people think that they have flying ants which are far less of a problem than flying termites.
Before we discuss how to get rid of flying termites, we’re going to talk more about these winged termites.
Table of Contents
- What is a Winged Termite?
- What Do Flying Termites Look Like?
- Signs of Termites in your Home
- Why Do Termites Swarm?
- 3 Ways to Get Rid of Flying Termites in Your House
What is a Winged Termite?
Many types of termites with wings are there but usually their average size tends to be in the range of 1/4th to 3/8th of an inch. While the general worker termite is light colored, a flying termite can be light, black, beige/tan or dark brown colored, depending on the species. The dark color of a termite helps it to retain the moisture in its body and helps it to leave its nest more freely. There are four wings in two sets on either side for a flight. It has a veiny appearance and is translucent and white in color. The two antennas are straight with a slight curve at the end. Unlike other insect species, their body does not have a clear-cut difference between the thorax and abdomen. It has a thick body that is made up of a single part. In this aspect, both wingless and flying termites have the same body construction.
A winged termite can be the queen or king of a colony. It can also be a swarmer that is capable of starting a new colony. Whereas soldier, worker or secondary reproductive termites are generally blind, a flying termite can have poor eyesight. When a colony of termite swarms, then only these can be visible. Among other things, warm and humid climate with heavy rainfall can help in the formation of swarms. Swarms are also created when male and female winged termites from established colonies mate together. When mating is over, the fertilized termites lose their wings and go ahead in creating newer colonies. Therefore, if a person notices a flying termite, it can be a clear indication of the presence of a mature colony somewhere nearby.
Termites with wings are very similar to winged ants and can be easily mistaken if certain differences are not recognized properly. Although appearance-wise, there are certain differences that can be readily noticed. Termites have straight-sided waist whereas ants have a more compressed one. All the four wings of termites are equal in size. The termite antennae are straight whereas an ant antenna can be bent at 90-degrees. These are some of the differentiators between the two species of insects.
What Do Flying Termites Look Like?
Termites are around the same size as ants, and to the untrained eye, it would be difficult to distinguish between the two. We’re going to talk about a few of the main components to look at to fully understand what you’re dealing with:
- Antennae: The antennae of a termite is straight. When compared to an ant, it’s easy to distinguish because ants have bent antennae.
- Waist: Termites also have a straight waist that doesn’t get thinner like an ant’s waist.
- Wing Length: The length of the wings is the main characteristic used to tell these two pests apart. Termites have wings that are the same size. Ants, on the other hand, have two different wing lengths.
Termite swarmers are just 1/4 of an inch in length, so it’s very difficult to get a good look at them.
Can Termites Fly into our House?
The overwhelming answer that has been received quite often is that ‘Yes, they can fly but not all of them are capable of it.’ Actually, termites are not classified in ‘winged insects’ category like mosquitoes and wasps. Rather, they are able to fly only for a short duration of time before they shed their wings forever.
A termite colony is distinctly divided into groups that are better known as castes. Each caste has a typical role to be performed in the colony. The distinct castes of termite include – workers, soldiers and alates. Among these three, alates are the ones equipped with wings and they are able to fly. They are the only termites that are sexually developed and goes on to become the kings and queens of future colonies. Termite habits and flying patterns are further known as swarms.
Termite swarms are indicative of a termite calendar. They can be spotted during a particular period of time in each year. This ‘time’ can depend upon geographical conditions and upon each species. Seasons also play a very vital role in the determination of termite calendar.
However, having said this, it is also important to mention here that a well-maintained home may not be the best place for their stay. A property having proper drainage, ventilation and storage can be a good way of deterring any termite build-up. Moreover, an annual inspection by a recognized termite professional to ascertain whether a property is free of termites can be the best way to ensure that a place is free of termite infestation.
Signs of Termites in your Home
During the favorable seasons when these insects come out, the alates usually fly and try to mate in the air. At this point in time, they can be physically spotted or their shredded wings can also be noticed. These are good ways of understanding their presence. Moreover, at the back of the house, if they are seen in droves, then that can be a sure shot way of knowing that they are present in a home.
Termites are an international menace as they are virtually present all around the globe. In the US alone, termite induced property damage stands to the tune of $5 billion each year and this figure can be quite substantive! Therefore, protecting a property from visible termite signs can be one of the best ways of keeping one’s family safe and also a good way of saving money.
Termites that reside in a property can cause damages to the tune of thousands of dollars. Moreover, any type of termite induced damage is not covered by most homeowners’ insurance.
Therefore, it becomes important to search for any termite damage sign in a home on a regular basis so that it can be kept under check. Moreover, having a termite protection plan through a pest deterrent company can be helpful as ‘termite inspection schedules’ can be expected to be carried out by them each year. This can be a wonderful way of ensuring that there is no termite damage happening within a property.
However, there are certain signs that can be inspected easily by a person who may be interested to keep termite infestation in check. A few of these signs are discussed below.
1) Blisters Observed in Wooden Flooring
– People who want an answer to the query ‘can termites fly into your house?’ may be satisfied by this point. Blisters or areas within a wooden flooring can indicate the presence of termite below the surface. This also indicates that termites stay deep inside wooden surfaces and it is not as if they make their home within a day by flying in. It is mainly done by subterranean termites that can damage a subfloor considerably making it look as if the floor has been damaged due to water.
2) Damaged or Hollowed Wood
– There can be a lot of wood damage and wood particles may be strewn all around below and beneath surfaces like the floor, walls, etc. It can all be a result of termites that chew through wood making long hollow cavity within the wood. Actually, it is their search for cellulose in wood due to which this type of operation is conducted by them. Over a period of time, this type of cavities may weaken the wood and can also be responsible for any major damage to the structure itself.
3) Proof of Any Swarm
– As earlier discussed, broken termite wings can be a good way of establishing their presence nearby. These wings can be expected at any access point to a property including doors, windows, etc. Winged termites generally take a flight for mating and once they have mated, they come back to the ground. Upon landing, they intentionally twist their wings so that they can be broken off because they know that they won’t need them ever again. All termite wings are of the same size and that can be a good way of establishing their presence within a property.
4) Presence of Mud Tubes
– There can be many types of mud tubes that can be of the size of a pencil. These may be present near to any termite food source like a shed or tree. Additionally, it can also be near to a place where the ground surface meets the house. It is due to the fact that subterranean termites usually live underground and make their way up in search of any wooden structure so that they can gorge on it. This type of wooden structure can usually be a property or a house and therefore it must be preserved. The pencil-sized tubes made by them can be helpful in stopping the dry, cool air so that they can make an environment where they can live very easily.
5) Signs of Droppings of Drywood Termite
– Drywood termites are nonflying termites that live inside the wood. When they infest a wood, they slowly eat through it leading to the formation of a tunnel. This further leads to the formation of galleries that is maintained in a clean way by them. The cleanliness of these galleries is maintained by creating small holes through which they try to pass out their excrement. Now, since these dry wood termites consume wood, the excrement is also in the form of wood. This literally leads to the creation of heaps of pellets. These heaps of pellets may look like coffee grounds or sawdust and can be a good indicator of dry wood termites.
However, it is not that without displaying any of these signs, they are not present in a property. In fact, they can still be present without showing any of these mentioned indicators. They can be there in a property and may remain hidden for a long time. When damage is ultimately found out, a substantial loss may already have been inflicted by them. Therefore, a proactive approach is very much needed to deal with a termite problem and any sign of this insect should be taken seriously.
Why Do Termites Swarm?
Termites aren’t trying to be a burden, but they swarm because it’s time for them to create a new colony. This is when you’ll start to notice them near your home. And there are certain seasons when termites will swarm. We can call this the mating season.
When Do Termites Swarm?
For the most part, a flying termite swarm can be witnessed when the weather begins to get warmer. Climates where there is a distinct winter with cold weather can consider the spring and (to some extent) the summer as the season when termites will swarm.
In most cases, barring a cold spring, the termites will come out after a good rain storm.
Swarms are a group of termites that are working together to be able to find their own colony. It’s important to note that not all species of termites will swarm at the same time. But all species will swarm when the weather is warm.
So, if it’s the middle of winter and you think you’ve seen a termite swarm, it is highly unlikely that you’re actually dealing with termites.
Subterranean termites, for example, won’t swarm until they’re about three years in age. Winged termites indicate that the termite will swarm and is looking for a colony. What happens is that the swarmers will grow wings to be able to fly to their new colony where they’ll find a mate and reproduce.
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Following a successful mating, the wings of the termite will fall off.
All of the females that mate in these partnerships will be considered the queen of her own colony. She will give birth to worker termites that will develop into soldiers in some cases, which will act to protect the queen and anyone in their colony.
It’s like the growth of the Middle Ages.
And the queen is your main target. One queen can lay a million eggs in her lifetime.
3 Ways to Get Rid of Flying Termites in Your House
1. Bug Zappers
Termites, like most insects, love light. This light will attract them and electrocute them if it’s a bug zapper. Obviously, this only works if the flying termites are outside of the home, but it’s a method that is recommended by professional exterminators.
You can use a fly swatter to kill them yourself, but this is far more practical.
The key is to shut off as many lights in your home as possible and try to remove your outside light, too. If there are multiple light sources, it will reduce the chances of successfully zapping these pests to death.
You can buy bug zappers online and in Home Depot or a hardware store.
2. Orange Oil Spray
Orange oil is such a good termite killer that it is highly recommended by professionals. The reason that this spray works so well is that there is a compound in the spray which will kill the termite. This compound is what gives oranges and citrus fruits their vibrant smells.
What you’ll need to do is the following:
- Purchase some orange oil
- Add the orange oil into a spray bottle.
Now, you’ll want to spray any termites you see as well as any areas where you see termite activity. If you know that termites have already lost their wings and are taking up space in your home, you’ll be able to spray these highly trafficked areas with orange oil.
Many people will also apply this oil to furniture, and even drill holes in the wall where they know termites are active and pour the orange oil into the holes.
3. Take Drastic Action Outdoors
Termites don’t fly for long, and if they have wings, you need to hope that they don’t decide that your home will be their colony. But there is only so much that you can do to ensure that termites won’t take up residence in your home.
Since these pests are drawn to wood, you can do a lot of different things outside of the home to curb the risk of them making your home as their own:
- Remove any mulch outside of the home and only use cedar mulch.
- Remove any tree stumps or other wood around the outside of the home.
- Flooring the soil of landscaping has been shown to kill termites.
Nematodes can also be introduced outside, which will eat termites. Nematodes will be able to eat through an entire colony of termites in no time at all. This will exterminate the entire colony.
If you notice wings on the windowsill or on the floor, this means that the termites did mate and they’ve likely picked your home to make a colony. The best course of action this early on is to call in a professional to kill the new colony before they cause any major damage.