Winged Termites Flying Reproductives

Winged Termites
Flying Reproductives

Winged reproductives produce the offspring in the colony and swarm at certain times of the year. Colonies can have both primary reproductives (one king and one queen), and hundreds of secondary reproductives to assist in egg laying and colony growth.
To tell the difference between a winged reproductive termite and a swarming ant, look at the swarmer’s body shape, antennae and length of wings.

  • An swarming ant has three distinct body parts: head, abdomen and thorax. In other words, it looks like an ant – with wings. Swarming termites do not have three distinct body parts. Look at the termite picture above. The insect seems to have only a head and a long body.
  • All ants have “elbowed” antennae. Flying reproductive termites have straight antennae.
  • Swarming termites and swarming ants both have four wings, although this is not apparent when the insect is at rest because their wings fold back against the top of the body. Termite swarmers have four wings of equal length. Ant swarmers front wings are longer than their rear pair of wings.

If termite swarmers (winged reproductives) are found inside of your home, it can be a sign of trouble. When there are dozens of swarmers or their wings located indoors, you probably have a problem. If only one or two are found on a window sill or on the floor beneath a vent, the chance of a problem is far less. In either case, try to leave the “evidence” undisturbed. Your termite control service company can give a more precise inspection and better service when they are given a good look at visible signs found in your home. Try to follow these guidelines when swarmers are found:

  • It is not necessary to buy a bug spray to kill indoor swarming termites. These swarming reproductives will not live for long and (if they are indeed subterranean termites) they can do you no harm. After swarming and mating, the mated female must burrow into soil to attempt to start a new colony. If she lands on your floor, she will simply die. Indoor swarmers will not cause a termite problem but they can be a sign of an existing problem!
  • When swarmers are found outdoors, it is not usually a problem for your home. To be safe and feel more secure, call your licensed PCO for a free inspection.
  • Try not to disturb indoor evidence. In far too many cases, pest control technicians are called after the swarmers and their wings have been swept up and thrown away. This does not help the PCO, who needs all possible evidence to evaluate the problem. The type of termite, number of swarmers and location of winged termites are important pieces of information. In some cases, the actual size of the swarmers can tell your PCO if the termite colony is very young and weak or older and strong.
  • If winged reproductives or their wings are in an area that must be cleaned, keep all evidence in a clean, clear bag. In different parts of the United States there can be anywhere from two to four types of destructive termites. Some types of termites require different or more thorough treatment and (most importantly!!) a different contract guarantee!

Termite Swarm

What is a Termite Swarm?

It may sound like a scene out of a science fiction movie, but termite swarms are a common and necessary occurrence for the survival and dispersal of termites.

When swarming termites, or alates, venture out of a nest inside a home, they will try to squeeze through cracks and crevices in the walls and foundation to reach open air for the first time. Since swarming termites are attracted to light, they often can be found near windows or light fixtures.

Termites swarm only after the colony reaches a certain size and weather conditions become optimal for flight. If you see a swarm of termites around your home, then there likely is a well-established colony of termites living in or near your home.

For many homeowners, a termite swarm may be the most visible sign of a termite infestation.

Why Do Termites Swarm?

Termites swarm after their original colony has reached a certain capacity level and is ready to expand. For most colonies, this happens once a year. Hundreds or even thousands of swarmers, called alates, are produced with the sole purpose of reproduction and expansion. The swarmers include both males and females, and the number bred each year varies based on colony size and termite subgroup. They live in the soil near the surface of their nest until conditions are right to take flight. These swarming preparations are made around the same time throughout colonies in the area.

When conditions are right, the swarmers launch into the air and pair off. Once paired, the couples shed their wings, mate and find a new place to start a nest to populate, if available. This occurs even if there are no nearby colonies to exchange alates with. The launches are typically spread out over a few days, with one large release the first day and smaller ones on subsequent days.

When Do Termites Swarm?

The timing of flight varies by subgroup — subterranean termites often swarm in the spring and during daylight, drywood termites wait until the late summer or early fall and dampwood termites swarm in the summer.

Regardless of species, most wait until a day following a rain shower when the weather is overcast and winds are under 6 mph. Damp soil aids in the nest-building process for newly paired mates, and survival rates are higher when there is more humidity. Termites don’t have to be outside to swarm, though. They can sometimes miscalculate their launching point and swarm indoors.

Drywood Termite Swarms

Drywood termite swarms are typically significantly smaller than subterranean termite swarms – often with no more than 100 swarmers. Due to the limited size of the swarm, you may not see this common warning sign for a termite infestation. However, you may notice drywood termite wings near window sills immediately after a swarm.

Drywood termites tend to swarm during the late summer or fall months.

Dampwood Termite Swarms

Dampwood termites swarm in the summer. However, dampwood termites are less of a concern to homeowners since they do not damage homes often.

Dampwood termites rarely nest inside homes because the moisture content in the wood is not high enough for them to survive. However, dampwood termites do produce swarms and can be present in wood surrounding homes, such as utility poles. A termite expert can identify signs of dampwood termites in or near homes, provide recommendations to reduce moisture conducive to termites, and create a customized treatment plan.

Check for an Infestation

Because termite swarms indicate that a current colony is flourishing nearby, it’s important to inspect your home and property if you see a swarm close to your home. If you think you may have termite activity, be sure to call an Orkin termite control specialist for a free inspection as soon as possible.

Termite Swarmers – What Do They Mean for You? Wood-Damaging Pests

At certain times of the year, termite colonies produce “swarmers” – the winged adults (Figure 1) that fly away to form their own colonies. Swarming usually occurs during the daytime and is simply nature’s way of reminding you that termites are nearby. Here are some commonly asked questions about termite swarmers.

Figure 1. Termite swarmers.

Figure 1. Termite swarmers.

The swarmers likely came from a nearby underground nest. If most of the insects are found outdoors, then the nest is likely somewhere in your yard, possibly near an old tree stump or landscape timbers. If you find most of the swarmers indoors (Figure 2), then you quite likely have an infestation under/in your home or business.

Figure 2. Termite wings on windowsill.

Figure 2. Termite wings on windowsill.

What Happens to These Swarmers?

In most cases, the termite swarmers simply die if they cannot escape from your house. They may be attracted to light and die on window sills or open areas. Quite often you will only find dead insects or just the wings as seen in the picture to the right. Collect some of the insects (or wings) so you can get them identified by a pest control service. You can also bring specimens to your county Cooperative Extension Center where they will assist you in identifying the insects.

Will Killing the Swarmers Fix the Problem?

No. Termite swarmers are a nuisance particularly when swarms occur indoors. However, they do not cause structural damage; that’s done by the worker termites in a colony. Although killing swarmers eliminates the nuisance problem at hand, it does not provide any protection from further termite activity that may already be causing serious damage. Protecting your home or business from termites starts with a good inspection and then, if necessary, a proper soil treatment with a liquid insecticide or installation of a baiting system, or with another method approved by the North Carolina Department of Agricultural & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS).

What Should I Do If I Find Termites Swarming?

The first thing you need to do is confirm that you indeed have termites. Many species of ants also produce winged adults and to the untrained eye they look very similar to winged termites. If you have a termite contract, contact the pest control company as soon as possible so they can take appropropriate action. If you do not have a termite contract, contact 2-3 local pest control companies and arrange for them to inspect the property. If your home or business is infested with termites, then consider getting it treated.

Additional information about termites and treatments is available online:

If you have any questions about approved termite treatments or about what you are told about the extent of any termite problem, contact the NCDA&CS – Structural Pest Control & Pesticides Division: 919-733-6100.

Termite Swarmers

During certain cycles of the year, termite colonies produce “swarmers.” These are the winged adult reproductives that leave their current residence to form their own colonies.

If you notice termite swarmers around your home, then they are most likely subterranean termites (depending on which part of the country you live in). These swarmers have likely moved into your yard from an underground nest.

Though they have wings, they are poor fliers.

>One common sign that your home might be under a termite attack is the sudden appearance of anywhere from a few to hundreds of small, brown or black winged insects. These termite swarmers can be identified by the following characteristics: two sets of wings that are uniform in size, broad waist and straight-bead like antennae.

Eastern Subterranean Termites

The most common home-infesting termite found in the U.S. is the subterranean termite, specifically the eastern subterranean termite. These termites live underground and travel in mud tubes. There are two methods for treating a subterranean termite infestation. One of those treatments uses a liquid termiticide, which is applied to the soil around the structure. The termite must pass through a treated zone in the soil to get into the structure, which disrupts their dinner plans. The other method employs a bait system, which provides control by feeding the colony with the bait, thereby destroying the colony.

Swarming Termites vs Swarming Ants

Swarming termites and swarming ants look similar. If you find signs of winged insects, don’t become antsy and assume that they are automatically termites.

Carpenter ants are commonly mistaken for termite swarmers. Both of these species have winged reproductives that swarm. When they swarm depends on the species of termite, the geographic location and it’s fairly weather dependent. Eastern subterranean termites usually swarm in the spring, first in the more southern states and then further north as temperatures rise. They will also, though rarely, swarm in the fall.

Flying ants can be identified by the following characteristics: Large forewings and small hindwings, narrow waist and segmented, elbowed antennae.

Termite Swarming Season

During certain times of the year, termite swarmers come out in full force. These swarmers leave their underground nests to fly away and locate mates. When they swarm depends on the species of termite, the geographic location and is fairly weather dependent. Eastern subterranean termites usually swarm in the spring, first in the more southern states and then further north as temperatures rise. Rarely they will also swarm in the fall.

When they appear indoors, it’s likely that worker termites are active somewhere within the home.

Concrete slab construction can be a very susceptible type of home construction for termite activity because termites can enter the home through any tiny crack in the slab foundation. These are commonly the first areas where termite mud tubes can be detected.

Once in your home, termites can cause extensive and serious damage to the structure. However, this damage occurs slowly and often goes unnoticed, sometimes for several years. By the time signs of termite damage are spotted, expensive treatment and repairs may already be needed. That’s why it’s important to contact a termite control professional from the start, even before termite activity is suspected.

Termites in House

Before termites get to work in your home, they will often build a mud tube wherever they enter and exit. The tubes can be small, about the diameter of a pencil, and up to several feet long. Remember, you will likely not see these small worker termites in your home. Worker termites don’t willingly expose themselves to light, or dry air, and usually stay well hidden behind walls or underground.

How to Help Get Rid of Termites

If you notice signs of termites in or around your home, it’s time to call a termite control professional to come and inspect it. Some telltale termite signs include: Discarded wings, mud tubes, hollowed or damaged wood and blisters in wood flooring

Where do swarmer termites come from

Call Now! (757) 814-2923

By: Jasna Aleksandrova

Unlike swarming killer bees that rush out of their hive to defend it and attack aggressively, swarming termites fly out because they want to mate and find new homes. Certain environmental conditions trigger winged termites to fly from their nest, find a mate, go find new nesting location, lay eggs and create a new colony.

A “swarm” is a dispersal flight of the winged termites. The termite swarm happens fast, with a large number of swarming termites, making it an unforgettable experience if it happens in your house. The fact is, swarming termites do not bite, they will not harm you, or damage your belongings, but, it is no doubt unpleasant.

Winged swarming termites emerge from cracks in your walls and foundation in large numbers. They can also come out though holes in the soil in your yard. They emerge through swarm tubes made by worker termites. Unfortunately for them, not every termite survives to form a new colony. A lot of them die from environmental conditions, or get eaten by predators like birds or other insects. Natural mating swarms usually occur during the spring when the weather gets warmer and we have more rain. They sometimes start swarming earlier if their food and/or water supplies run out.

If you are a witness to hundreds of swarming termites outside, turn off all exterior lighting to avoid attracting them to your home. This is an indication that there is a termite colony nearby, somewhere in your yard. If you find swarming termites inside your house then you have an infestation. Don’t panic! Swarms last approximately a half an hour, they may occur often during the next several days, and then they will stop. Don’t be fooled when it stops though because it’s not over. The swarmers may have finished mating but then they immediately begin developing new generations of termites in new nests in and around your homes. If you don’t fix the problem, you are ignoring the damage they are doing behind your walls and you will meet new swarmers next year.

If you think that you have swarming termites collect samples of the dead insects and call an exterminator. You will also end up with a massive collection of insect wings, because after they swarm and mate, they lose their wings and many of them die. After you collected the dead insects for your exterminator, use a vacuum cleaner to remove the rest. You can also use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the termites while they are swarming although you definitely won’t get all of them. If it is possible, make sure to note the exact locations from which the winged swarming termites first emerged. It may be difficult to find them emerging if you’re panicking about hundreds or more winged insects flying all over your home. Keep calm and realize that it’s important to find the entry location for your exterminator because the swarming will be over by the time he or she arrives.

Collecting specimens is important in order for the professionals to ensure that the insects are in fact termites and for them to treat your home or yard appropriately. As we’ve already established, reproducing termites create the swarm, but they do this to mate and create more worker termites which will continually eat wood all year. By having semi-annual termite inspections, you can avoid this problem all together. A pest control professional will inspect and identify any termite activity that you may have, treat any affected areas and prevent this from happening to you.

Flying termites

While termites are active all year round, these unwelcome pest are most visible – through swarms, discarded wings and droppings – in the warmer weather. Termite swarms mark the start of termite season. This happens once a year during a select period of time which differs between species and location, with seasonality playing a big factor. Termites create nests both above and underground, and should they gain access into your home, could cause costly termite damage in structural repairs.

Termites can remain hidden and cause damage for years without notice. If you live in areas such as Phoenix or Los Angeles, there is one key warning sign you should be on the lookout for – flying termites. Also known as termite swarmers, these winged termites around your property could be the harbinger of much bigger problems.

What are termite swarmers?

Termite swarmers (also referred to as alates) are winged termites whose main role in life is reproducing and creating new termite colonies. In order to find a mate, these future termite kings and queens will swarm to find suitable locations for their colonies.

Emerging from tubes built by worker termites, termite swarmers range in color- from yellow to black – depending on the species. Like many other flying insects, termites are attracted to light and are often noticed around exterior lighting and window sills.

Termite swarmers are an unwelcome sight for any property owner. If you have seen what you believe to be a termite swarm in the vicinity of your property, we highly recommend bringing in a termite control professional. Contact Western Exterminator to schedule a property inspection with a licensed termite exterminator today.

Why do termites swarm?

Termites swarm to breed and start new colonies. A termite swarm marks the beginning of the termite life cycle. During this period the sexually developed male and female winged termites leave their nests and take flight. This is often referred to as ‘nuptial flight’ and is also common and practiced by other insects such as ants.

After leaving their nest, the winged termites congregate in the air (swarms) and mate with termites of the same species from other colonies. After they have successfully mated, the termites land, shed their wings and start the process of creating a new colony.

When do termites swarm?

Termites usually start to swarm in the early days of spring when the weather is warm and after a rain shower. Termites use environmental cues as a signal to start swarming and also synchronized with other termite colonies of the same species to ensure the possibility of inbreeding is reduced.

The time of day termite swarms occur depends on the species of termites. The majority of Subterranean termites swarm during the day while Formosan termites (a breed of subterranean termites) swarm during the night time.

Winged termites are highly attracted to sources of light such as street lamps and can often be found swarming around these sources.

Termites aren’t very good fliers and generally rely on the wind to help with air mileage. Because of this, termite swarms don’t last long, and can be found close to the originating nests. However, if the wind is strong, the future king and queen termites will often travel far before starting a new colony.

What does a flying termite look like?

Flying termites differ in appearance from other flying insects and can be identified by examining them closely.

Flying termites appear in a range of colors depending on the species. Generally, flying termites appear in the same beige/tan color as the other termite castes. They have two antennae which are often straight with a slight curve and have two sets of wings which are equal in length and white and translucent in color with a veiny appearance.

Termites, in general, can be defined by their body shape. Both flying termites and wingless termites have a thick body made up of one part. Termites do not have a constriction between their thorax and abdomen like ants do.

Can all termites fly?

No, not all of them. Termites don’t fall into the category of flying insects like wasps and mosquitoes do. Only a small set of termites can fly and they only do so for a short period of time before they lose their wings.

A termite colony is split into groups known as castes. Each caste has a particular role in the colony:

Out of the termite castes, it is only the Alates which can fly, as they are the only ones with wings. Alates are the only termites which are sexually developed, to become the future kings and queens of next season’s termite colonies. It is the Alates’ flying patterns and habits which we have come to know as termite swarms.

Flying termites vs. Flying ants

Accurate identification is the first step in determining your next. Termite swarmers are easily confused with flying ants. Knowing the difference between flying ants and flying termites could help homeowners save time, money and provide a peace of mind.

While both insects are similar in shape, size and color, they do differ in appearance if you know what to look out for.

Termite swarmers characterised by:

  • Straight antennae that appear to be made of tiny beads
  • Broad waist
  • Two sets of equal length wings

Flying ants characterised by:

  • Elbow shaped antenna
  • Hourglass waist
  • Two sets of unequal length wings

Termite swarmer exterminators

So you’ve spotted swarms of flying insects around your property – and you are worried they might be termites. What should you do?

A licensed exterminator will be able to conduct a proper inspection of the property and recommend the best termite control solutions for your needs. Termite treatments vary depending on the type of termite. Western subterranean termites build colonies underground so a treatment targeting the soil would be needed; conversely, a property infested with drywood termites would often termite fumigation services. Western Exterminator termite swarmer exterminators will be able to provide you with comprehensive termite treatment options and recommendations for termite removal.

Termites are prevalent in cities on the West Coast, locations such as Anaheim, Apple Valley, Bakersfield, Escondido, Fresno, Hayward, Palm Springs, Santa Maria, Temecula and Van Nuys. Contact us to schedule a termite inspection today, as a termite infestation could be imminent.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail will not be published. All fields are required.