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Winged Termites – All You Need to Know About Them

May 22, 2018

The warm weather outside can generally be a happy hunting ground for termites so that they can come out in droves during the season. These crawling insects can be quite deceitful and can completely devastate any wooden construction. They can create nests underground as well as above the ground and get access to a home and do ample property damage.

In a similar way, their winged counterparts, the flying termites are also quite damaging. The damage done by them can remain hidden for years before it comes to the fore. Moreover, the winged structure makes it all the more potent so that they can move around more freely during the mating season. They are harbingers of a greater problem but however due to their flight, they can be noticed more easily and steps can be taken to neutralize them.

What is a Winged Termite?

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People who have always wondered about this question 'what is a winged termite?' may be assured to know that 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.   

Can Termites Fly into our House?

This has been a very baffling question for a long time and even research has been conducted to establish '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.

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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.  

What are the Signs of Termites in your Home?

People who would like to know about termite infestation in a home may try to deal with this question 'what are the signs of termites in your home?' This is a very pertinent point because depending on it, many other things can be found out and ultimately the ways of dealing with the crisis.

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

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- 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 

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- 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.

Reasons of Swarming

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As already stated, alates are the only winged termites and they swarm for breeding and making new colonies. Swarms can be considered as their beginning of life-cycle. During swarming, the sexually active males and female alates leave their home and take to the air for breeding. This is also known as 'nuptial flight' and is also quite common among other insects like ants.

After leaving their nests, they meet in the air and try to mate with females from different colonies. After successful mating is completed, they touch down on the ground and shed their wings and start developing their own colony.   

Time of their Swarming

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 It is not as though termites with wings can be spotted all the year round. Actually, during winters, they cannot be spotted altogether. However, during early spring and after a rain, they can be easily spotted as they try to form swarms during that time. They generally use environmental signals to start the process of swarming. It is also usually synchronized with different termite colonies so that chances of inbreeding within a colony can be eliminated.

The time of swarming also depends from species to species. Whereas Formosan termites like to swarm at night, the subterranean termites are more comfortable to swarm during the day. Winged termites, in general, are very much attracted to light sources and hence one can easily spot them near street lamps during their mating season.

These flying termites may not be the best of flyers. They generally rely on the blowing wind to get the necessary air mileage. This also a reason why these swarms do not last for a long time and they happen very close to their original nests. Anyway, in case if there is a presence of strong wind, they can be blown away to a far off place than their originating nest and the future queen and king can start a brand new colony at a completely new place.      

Need of Getting Rid of Termites  

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People who ask 'are termites harmful to humans?' generally, raise this question due to the fact that termites are known to destroy huge chunks of wooded property. Therefore, it is important that they are dealt in a proper way so that there is no threat from them. The best way still remains to exterminate all of them in one go so that any flying termite within a colony can also be cleared off.

They are one of the most lethal insects found in one's homes. A termite colony produces alates after establishing itself sufficiently for at least 3 to 6 years. During all this time, the worker termites can wreak havoc on the building by feeding on the wood where the colony is present.

Soft interior wooden portions are eaten by these worker termites along with many other components. They can virtually carry on their operations for years altogether without being detected. The outer portions of a wooden structure may not bear the brunt of their destruction whereas internally, it can be completely devastated. Typical evidence to suggest their presence includes cracks, building wood collapse and mud tubes. Flying termites can be a signal of the presence of colonies nearby. Getting rid of them can ensure that a property can stay safe from them and their spread can be limited and reduced substantially. Chances of any future colony being created also diminish.

Removal of Termites from a Property  

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It is highly imperative that termites with wings as well as the wingless ones should be removed from a property so that the life of the property can be enhanced. Finding and locating termites within an area can be quite a challenge because they can conceal themselves deep within the wood. Adopting a DIY technique may not be very helpful as that can result in the infestation coming back again after a while. There are professional termite control specialists who are there to help with the process. They can usually carry out many types of termite baiting, barriers and spraying operations that can be helpful in getting rid of termites. There are also many types of specialized treatment plans that can work against termite infestation. Some of these are detailed here.

1) Termidor Liquid Termite Treatment 

- This type of liquid termite treatment plan can be very useful for any type of property to get rid of the insect. It is also a very safe option for use both in outdoor and indoor applications so that people can use them in a building foundation to create a protective covering around a property. The use of the liquid is further pronounced due to its feature of not only meeting the present requirements. It can also be helpful for any type of future infestation as well. This way, if the termite liquid is used once, a property owner can stay sufficiently assured of its efficacy for a very long time. After every treatment, the amount of the liquid is monitored using an application flowmeter. The device can be helpful to suggest the cumulative total against the quantity of termiticide that has been used in the area.    

2) Use of Dry Foam as Termite Treatment 

- People who have the query 'are termites harmful to humans?' can be answered by this treatment method as the dry foam is used in this process. To some extent, yes, they can be harmful to humans and therefore dry foam is used to cover up spaces between internal and external walls, water pipes, near heating ducts and many other surfaces. There are also other types of specialized dry foams that are available for the treatment of termites. These are used in hard-to-reach areas that can help in providing added safety from termite infestation. One of the advantages of using this type of foam is that they are very low in moisture content. Therefore, any chance of soaking from drywall and creation of wet spot can be completely eliminated. This way, termites can be got rid of and at the same time, a wall or any structure can also retain its beauty without showing any unnecessary duress signs.

3) Effective Bait and Continuous Monitoring

- It is a treatment that can have far-reaching consequences. It effectively stops the molting process in termites so that their growth can be stunted. This type of treatment is done at vulnerable places that can be a happy hunting ground for them like mulch or moist soil, irrigation sprinklers, left-out tree stumps and downspouts. This type of treatment can ensure enhanced protection without being too harsh on the surrounding. The damage to a property can be substantially lessened with this technique. Moreover, most services that offer this facility ensure that once the treatment has been done, they come up with a Termite Control Service Ticket that can explain what process has been carried out and when will a person from the services again return to look at the progress of the process so that the improved status can be found out.      

Conclusion

Termites with wings can be quite deadly for any property. It is important that they are found out within a time-period so that they can be dealt with accordingly. It is not as though the winged and the wingless termites are any different. Rather, wings are only a manifestation of a particular class of this insect that helps in their mating. More so, the wings do not last a lifetime and they tend to lose it as soon as mating is complete. Hence, the winged termites are just like any other termites and all features and properties of general termites can be linked with them.

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