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
- What’s the Difference Between Flying Termites and Flying Ants?
- Why Do Termites Swarm?
- 5 Ways to Get Rid of Flying Termites in Your House
- Flying Termite Prevention
What is a Winged Termite?
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
What’s the Difference Between Flying Termites and Flying Ants?
Both ants and termites can swarm, and they both have similar appearances. It’s important to be able to know the differences between these two swarmers so that you know which type of insect you’re dealing with.
Termite swarmers need to be dealt with differently than flying ants.
We already discussed what flying termites look like. Here’s what flying ants look like:
- Waist Shape: Ants have tiny, pinched waists between the abdomen and thorax. They look like they are being constricted by a rope or string.
- Wing Length: Ants have feather-like wings that layer upon each other and are of unequal length.
- Antenna: Flying ants have antennae that are bent in the middle (like elbows on humans).
With these points in mind, you should be able to tell the difference between a flying termite and a flying ant.
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.
How long do flying termites live? Longer than you probably expect. In fact, the Smithsonian calls the Queen of Termites the longest-lived insects. King and queen termites can settle down into their chambers and live ten years or more.
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.
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.
5 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.
4. Cardboard Trap
You can create an inexpensive, effective termite trap using a material that you probably have in your home already: cardboard.
The next time you have a package delivered to your home, save the box and use it to fight back against termites.
You see, termites love cellulose. It’s a compound found in wood, but it’s also found in cardboard. Placing sheets of wet cardboard in infested areas will attract the termites.
Once the termites start eating the cardboard, you can decide how you want to exterminate them. Most people choose to spray the cardboard with an insecticide or natural bug killer.
Others choose to torch the cardboard. Setting the cardboard on fire will definitely kill the termites, but this is also a dangerous method that we don’t recommend. You can easily injure yourself or cause a fire in the process.
We recommend spraying the cardboard using an insecticide or a natural bug killer. Be sure to follow the directions on commercial insecticide products.
5. Boric Acid
Boric acid is an effective insect killer, and you can find it online or in most big-box stores. It’s generally non-toxic, and it’s effective at killing most insects, including termites.
Boric acid works by coating the bug and dehydrating it. The dehydration damages the insect’s nervous system and kills it.
Boric acid comes in powder form, and it can be applied either indoors or outdoors. You can sprinkle the powder along the perimeter of your home, but you can also place it along windows, doors, entryways and other areas where you see flying termites.
While generally safe, it’s best to keep kids and pets away from the boric acid. And if you’re applying the powder outdoors, make sure that you reapply it daily or every few days, especially if there’s a rainstorm.
Flying Termite Prevention
Once you’ve taken steps to eliminate flying termites, you want to make sure that they never return. How can you do this? Prevention.
As the experts say: the best removal method is prevention.
Preventing termites from entering your home is the key most important thing, and you can do this by through a method called “trenching.”
Trenching is the practice of applying a termiticide along the perimeter of your home, typically along the foundation. If termites attempt to cross the barrier you create, they will die and spread the insecticide to their colony.
Trenching isn’t as easy as spraying a product and calling it a day. You need to use shovels to dig literal trenches along the perimeter of your home. Once you’ve done this, you can apply a termiticide that will give you protection for up to five years.
If you’re concerned about applying a chemical pesticide, you may want to call in a professional to do the job for you.
Keep in mind that if you’re seeing termite swarmers, there’s a very good chance that you already have a thriving colony of these pests near your home. You’ll want to tackle this infestation before you start implementing preventative measures. If you don’t get rid of the initial infestation, you’ll be fighting a constant uphill battle with these insects.
Along with trenching, you also want to take other natural approaches to prevent termite infestations.
For starters, you should correct moisture issues, including drainage concerns, leaks and excess condensation. Check your heating and cooling units to look for condensation issues. This is a common place area for this problem, and it can help attract termites to the area.
The next step is to remove extraneous wood from your yard. We touched on this earlier, but it’s really important to remove tree stumps, fallen trees, leaf debris and other materials that termites love. We also recommend that you avoid using wood mulch in your yard. Wood mulch is another food source for termites, so you’re effectively inviting them to dinner.
Make sure that you keep all firewood a fair distance from your home. Never store wood next to your home.
Also, you want to make sure that you never use untreated wood in construction projects, such as decks and sheds.
Termites are a serious pest, and they can cause expensive damage to your home. If you’re seeing termite swarmers, it’s an indication of a more serious problem that you cannot ignore. At this stage, you can take steps to kill the flying termites, but it may be time to call in a professional to tackle the rest of the colony. Otherwise, you may wind up with irreparable damage to your home.