To get rid of flying termites, you need to first know what winged termites in your home or business really mean

Hundreds of flying winged termite alates grouped on a floor.
If you ever encounter a significant number of flying termites in your home it is a good idea to call a professional termite exterminator.

Last Updated on 3 weeks by John Brown

Everyone wants to learn how to get rid of flying termites after seeing them near or in their home. Finding flying termites swarming around, either inside or outside your home means there is mature termite activity in or near your home because it indicates a nearby termite colony has sent out some termites (the winged ones) to scout out places to establish a new termite colony.

But, while swarmers can be pretty nerve-wracking, there are several ways you can get rid of these annoying and destructive pests quickly before they potentially cause thousands of dollars of damage to your home and property.

Don’t just vacuum flying termites up and leave it at that. This common mistake could make your become one of the many people who experience serious structural damage to their homes each year.

A little knowledge can do wonders in protecting you from termite damage. So let’s dig right in.

Table of Contents

  1. What are flying termites?
      1. Click Here to Jump to a Section
  2. How to identify flying termites
  3. How to prevent flying termites
  4. Signs that you may have flying termites
  5. Exterminating flying termites on the outside
  6. Getting rid of an active termite colony
  7. A more natural extermination method
  8. Time for a professional?
  9. Winged Termites
  10. What Are Winged Termites?
  11. Do Termites Have Wings? And Can Termites Really Fly?
  12. Both The Beginning and End of Infestations Have Winged Termites Present
  13. Winged Termite FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
    1. Are flying termites dangerous?
    2. What do winged termites look like?
    3. Do flying termites eat wood?
    4. Do flying termites bite humans?
    5. What attracts flying termites to a home?
    6. What do flying termites do?
    7. How long do flying termites live?
    8. What home remedy can I use on flying termites?
    9. Do flying termites cause damage?
    10. What’s the difference between winged termites and winged ants? What should I look for to properly identify them?
    11. What does it mean if I find winged termites around my house? What does it mean if I find them in my home and what should I do about it?
    12. Why do termites grow wings?
    13. Where are winged termites most common?
    14. What can I do to keep them from feasting on my house?
    15. Do all termites grow wings?
    16. How far can winged termites fly in search of a new colony during mating season?
    17. Are there certain things that attract winged termites?
    18. What alternatives are there to putting mulch around my house? Is cedar mulch resistant to termites? Are there mulch alternatives that do not attract termites?
  14. Further Reading:
Video explaining how to kill flying termites

What are flying termites?

First, what exactly are flying termites?

They are just common, ordinary termites that have reached the winged-stage of their lifespan, meaning they are in their reproductive cycle. Flying termites are known to the scientific community as alates.

Flying termites are typically on the lookout for new locations where they can establish colonies. Therefore, if you see them termite alates inside or outside your home, it’s usually a could be an indication that you’ve got an established termite infestation in your home or in your yard. To get a better idea of where exactly the termites are coming from, you may need a professional to conduct a more thorough inspection of your building and premises.

During their winged-stage of life, adult termites don’t create a lot of structural damage. But what they do create is a whole new generation of wood-chomping termite babies that will damage your property if left unchecked.

Termite alate are like rabbits—they reproduce quickly. So, don’t waste any time in having them exterminated if needed. At a minimum, if you see them its a good idea to take a closer look yourself or contact a professional for help.

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How to identify flying termites

Flying termites are often mistaken for flying ants and vice versa.

So, how can you tell the difference?

It’s actually pretty simple. Flying ants have bodies that are three-segmented and a small and large set of wings. Flying termites have two-segment bodies and two long identically-sized sets of wings.

How to prevent flying termites

There are several steps you can take to protect your home from an onslaught of flying termites.

Get rid of moisture problems by repairing leaky faucets, water pipes and air conditioning units; divert water away from your foundation; keep your gutters and downspouts clean and free of debris; don’t overuse wood mulch in your garden or flower beds; keep your roof as dry as possible by removing any standing water that may accumulate on it; keep vents clear, clean and open; and seal any entry points you may have around your water pipes or utility lines.

Starve termites by removing their food supply. Firewood, lumber and even something as innocuous as paper should be kept away from your foundation and crawl spaces. Remove any dead vegetation, trees, or shrubs that might be near your home and install screens on your outside events. Check your decks and fences for damage and repair it.

Signs that you may have flying termites

If you’ve got flying termites inside your home, they’ve probably already made a home for themselves outside, where they could have built nearby colonies.

Examine your home’s structure and lawn and garden for mud tubes. Termites also like to burrow into the ground, so be on the lookout tracks on the ground.

Termites are especially fond of dark and damp areas that give them access to wood, so be sure to examine your basement, foundation, and siding for signs of mud tubes and tracks as well. You might even see flying termites exiting from the mud tubes, much like bees leave their hives.

Sometimes you might only find the termite’s wings and not its body. That’s because they drop their wings after they’ve mated. Take a close look at your window sills and baseboards for those wings.

Exterminating flying termites on the outside

If your flying termites have confined themselves to activity on the outside of your home, you’ve got several options to get rid of them.

Flying termites, like virtually all insects, are attracted to light, to invest in a bug zapper. Make sure to place the device near where they termites are. While you use it, keep the lighting to a minimum around your home, so that doesn’t attract them inside.

You can also swat them down like you would a fly or use an insecticide spray to kill them.

Getting rid of an active termite colony

If you’ve got an active termite colony on your property, simply killing the flying termites will not completely solve your problem. You’ve got to attack the colony itself.

Termiticide sprays and baiting systems are often your best bet for eradicating an entire colony. You can spray the termiticide around your home’s foundation, making sure to treat any cracks that may be visible and anywhere you have noticed the pests.

Baiting systems starve the entire colony by attracting individual termites and them killing them. If you opt for a baiting system, place them in the ground around your foundation, separating each system by at least one foot.

A more natural extermination method

If you’ve only got a small flying termite infestation, pour some orange oil into a spray bottle and spray the area where you have seen the termites, as well as in other areas where you think the termites might go.

Time for a professional?

If none of the above extermination and eradication methods work within a week or two, its time to call in a professional. Termites are a costly pest that you don’t want to fool around with for too long. Or, if you would like, you can fill out some simple information below to get a couple companies to send you free termite control estimates!

Winged Termites

As termites cause significant damage to houses, typically costing hundreds or thousands of dollars to repair, homeowners need to know how to recognize signs of an infestation.

Winged termites are red flags that an infestation might exist nearby. It is quite possible to see swarming winged termites outside of the home when there is also a colony devouring the home.

Winged-termite swarms should thus be examined further if you find them in or around your home.

What Are Winged Termites?

In termite society, there are different castes that determine the termite’s role in the colony. Only termites that are reproductive will grow wings. Even then, not all reproductive termites have wings. There are two primary types of reproductive termites: alates and neotenics. There are two further subtypes of neotenics, and alates have two further stages. Neotenics will not have wings, although some of them will have wing nubs; neotenicssupplement the colony’s egg production and resemble smaller queens. Alates are the winged termites that you are likely to see as neotenics remain inside the colony.

Do Termites Have Wings? And Can Termites Really Fly?

Not all termites have wings but when they reach the adult portion of their life termites do indeed grow wings to help them fly away in search of a new colony (or a new home to infest.)

What makes things tricky in identifying them is that ants also grow wings as they sexually mature for the same purpose and it can be difficult to tell a winged ant apart from a winged termite.

But don’t worry, it’s not all that hard if you just learn a few distinguishing characteristics between the two insects.

If you find winged termites in or around your home you do not really need to worry about them hurting you. Typically you can just vacuum them up and schedule a termite inspection for your home. Just because you found them in your home does not mean you have an infestation. More than likely you don’t.

However, there is a chance that there is a termite infestation in your home that was mature enough to create sexually matured termite “swarmers” who left the lumber in your home in search of expanding their territory. It is for this reason that you should call up a termite inspector if you find winged termites or discarded termite wings in or around your home.

You’ve probably seen these little pests before and didn’t even know it. A lot of people confuse them for flying ants but termites in their adult stages of life grow wings and fly from their colony in search of new wood or lumber to eat as well as to mate. These groups of termites with wings are often referred to as termite swarmers.

Both The Beginning and End of Infestations Have Winged Termites Present

If you find a swarm of termites near your home then chances are more likely than not that termites have either just left your home (not all of them but just the one who have newly reached adult hood) or are attempting to enter the wood in your house.

Remember, preventing termites includes knowing the signs of termite activity near your home and being able to recognize and properly identify discarded termite wings, as adult-staged winged termites are vital to catching these destructive insects before they become a huge problem that costs you thousands of dollars.

Most home insurance coverage does not include termite damage, so you must have your own plan for keeping your home safe from these pests.

Winged Termite FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Are flying termites dangerous?

Flying termites are not directly dangerous to humans or pets; they are simply reproductive alates searching for new places to expand their colonies. 

But flying termites can harm your property and sometimes serve as a sign that an active termite infestation is present.  If you find flying termite swarmers in your home, it could signify an extensive termite colony in the lumber of your home that is mature enough that it is sending its winged termites to look for new territory. 

So, if you find termites in your home please contact a termite professional.

If you find termites outside, in your yard, for example, you don’t usually need to be concerned.  These may be termites that were active in a nearby tree, or subterranean termites eating cellulose-based material, like leaves, under the ground. Again, they send out winged termites (swarmers) to expand their colony. 

So, finding flying termites outside your property doesn’t mean they have found their way into your home. Though, it still might be a good idea to take some proactive measures and have a termite professional conduct an inspection and possibly implement some preventative measures. 

What do winged termites look like?

Do flying termites eat wood?

Do flying termites bite humans?

What attracts flying termites to a home?

What do flying termites do?

How long do flying termites live?

What home remedy can I use on flying termites?

Do flying termites cause damage?

What’s the difference between winged termites and winged ants? What should I look for to properly identify them?

What does it mean if I find winged termites around my house? What does it mean if I find them in my home and what should I do about it?

The winged termites you found in your home either found their way into your home from outside in an attempt to establish a new colony. Or, the other thing it could mean, is that the winged termites you found were emerging from within your home in order to establish a new colony. If this is the case, this is bad news. This means for one, there are termites already in your home. For two, this termite colony is old and established enough that the termites are sprouting wings and seeking “greener pastures” to start a new colony.

Why do termites grow wings?

Termites grow wings as part of their reproductive journey. In order to expand their colony significantly they must search for greener pastures, so to speak.

Where are winged termites most common?

What can I do to keep them from feasting on my house?

Do all termites grow wings?

Only reproductive termites, or alates, sprout wings when they have reached sexual maturity and fly away in search for new colonies.

How far can winged termites fly in search of a new colony during mating season?

Are there certain things that attract winged termites?

Rotten and water logged wood is what termites prefer the most. In addition to that they prefer to frequent dark areas and stay out of the light. So you should do your best to clear your yard of deadfall, keep all mulch away from your house, and fix any water leaks within or around your home as soon as possible.

One thing you’ll notice here that many people neglect to do usually because they simply do not know any better is keeping mulch away from your house. I have seen countless homes with mulch incorporated into the landscape around houses. In fact it is quite common to see it right up against the foundation of nicely landscaped homes.

Although this looks great ask yourself if it is really worth the increased risk of a termite infestation.

What alternatives are there to putting mulch around my house? Is cedar mulch resistant to termites? Are there mulch alternatives that do not attract termites?

You can use rubber mulch made from recycled tires. Since the rubber has no cellulose, the material termites eat, the rubber mulch alone will not attract them. However, if the rubber mulch allows moisture to gather near your foundation, this moist soil may attract subterranean termites to the vicinity of your foundation. They may later find their way up the exterior of your home or inside in search for structural timber. If you decide you have to have mulch around your home, please ensure you are achieving proper drainage of water away from the foundation of your house or you may be creating a termite-friendly environment.

Same issue with Cedar mulch. Termites are repelled by the resins in cedar lumbar…  however, over time these resins break down and cedar loses its repellent capabilities. Also keep in mind that the same issue with the drainage applies with any type of mulch, including Cedar mulch. If water and moisture is gathering near the foundation due to the Cedar mulch it may attract subterranean termites.

Gravel or river rock has the same benefit as rubber mulch in not providing any additional cellulose (termite food) near the foundation of your home other than what is already there in the soil from broken down leaves and grass. However, pea gravel or river rock again can create drainage issues. Just ensure you have good water drainage away from your home if you opt for placing rock or gravel near your foundation.

Further Reading:

Termite Facts by Orkin

16 comments

  1. Flying termites are young reproductive species, so-called princes and princesses that are hopeful to start a new life. But unfortunately for then, after a short nuptial flight, they have to return to the ground where they become an easy prey for different termite-eaters. Only few of them are lucky to get paired, dig out a hole and start their colony. We may only hope that they won’t choose our house as a shelter.

    1. Igori,

      I agree that we can only hope that termite swarmers do not pick our homes for a new colony. The other thing to be aware of is that if you find flying termites in your home, although rare, they may be exiting your home, meaning you may already have an active termite infestation. If you ever are unfortunate enough to see swarmers pouring out a small pinhole within your house, please call some pest professionals to come performs a thorough inspection.

  2. I did not know about flying termites, I bet they are a site to see. I find it interesting that they are attracted to water. I wonder how wet something has to be for them to get at it? If I do have that problem I would rather find a pest control company that can take care of them than try to eradicate them myself.

    1. Look, termite swarms are quite a site to see but so amusing when they are in your house. I would also recommend contacting a professional pest control company if you ever encounter any sign of termites in your home. A house is an expensive investment and termites can devalue or completely destroy your house. You can get free quotes for pest control services here.

  3. I am in a rented property and I have a termite infestation but the landlady is old and refuses to pay for an inspection. What can I do to get it under control myself? What sprays or diy solutions can I get to rid my apartment of these flying pests. It is worse this time of year as they are flying everywhere and I can’t even put a light on.

    1. John, you are in a tough situation there. You should try to look up what your legal rights are in the area you live in as a tenant. Sounds to me like that is something the landlady is legally obligated to resolve. I have seen lawyers that specialize in these type of tenant rights issues. If you must go the DIY route. First, ensure you properly identify the species of termite you are dealing with. Second (this is related to identifying the species) identify where the termites are coming from and where their colony extends to. From this information, you will be able to decide what the best route to go for dealing with these termites will be. If it is a small infestation, you may be able to use spot treatment which would be easy for DIY. If it is a large and aged infestation it can be incredibly difficult to eradicate all the termites without tenting the house and either fumigating or utilizing a heat treatment. If you want, you can fill out a little info here and get a couple of companies to give you a free estimate for professional termite control. You could also have a termite inspection performed, they are usually done for free with no obligation. If a company tries to charge you for an inspection or offer one with obligation, steer clear. Legitimate companies should offer these free of charge.

  4. I had a company come look at my house. He just wanted to sell me an over priced package deal. HE DID NOT look at where I saw the termites coming from, He kept focusing on other less important issues that are easy DIY fixes for any handy homeowner… so beware of the con artist companies. They come, don’t look, but tell you how they can “save the day” with a guarantee to rid you of pests that you don’t know for sure that you actually have. Get a second opinion or a third or as many as it takes to get somebody to actually look and show you proof that there is a problem…

    1. Terri, I agree with you 100 percent. Please, anyone who is looking into getting termite treatment, get at least 3 opinions! First of all, a termite quote and most termite inspections should be free of charge. You can fill out information once here and get 3 – 4 companies to contact you with a free obligation quotes. This gives you several numbers to compare but also ask around your family and community of contacts for references and feedback on any pest control companies they have used in the past. Larger nation-wide brands can have the added benefit of guarantees and warrantees but often come with a higher price. You can also find very talented and experienced local pest control companies who know their stuff for lower prices, but if the prices seem too good to be true, they probably are. There are a fair number of pest control “professionals” who are not as qualified as they claim, so if at all possible ask for references and ask around your group of friends and family.

  5. We are living in an apartment that has had about a dozen flying termites mixed up with some non-winged termites. We have found clear wings inside our bathroom sink. What should we do? The maintenance worker said they will spray for the winged termites but from what I have read the winged termites die shortly after appearing anyway and spraying won’t help with any underlying termite issues. Some direction on what to do next would be appreciates. Thanks

    1. Hi Charmaine, you are correct! Finding winged termites in your bathroom sink warrants a more thorough inspection, despite what your maintenance worker informed you. He may kill some of the flying termites but there is a good chance there are more in your apartment (although they could have just flown in that day looking for a new place to set up shop). I would have a professional come perform a termite inspection, these are usually free. Or you can fill out some quick information here are get a few quotes from different companies in your area, just be sure to tell them you only want an inspection to start with an tell them exactly what you told me. Where the termites were, etc. These quotes are free, so you can then take these different options and present them to your apartment owner if you are renting it. This is something the landlord should take care of in most states. I do not know the laws in all states, but the vast majority of them require the landlord to take care of termite treatment, and it is in their best interest to anyway because this can seriously affect their property value and likelihood of getting future renters. I hope this helps, let us know what you find out!

  6. We bought our first mobile home fixer upper. Well I was so happy n who wouldn’t be at the price of $1,500. Well it’s infested with termites n last summer they swarmed inside I was chased out everyday for weeks. My bf thinks he can get rid of them on his own but we have both types. I’ve had 2 quotes n he still is being a tight wad. I don’t know how to convince him we need to tent it period. We are gutting the home room by room. He thinks by spraying the 2×4’s they will leave. I’ve already seen some. What to do

    1. Tracy, this is a tough call. What were the quoted prices for treating your mobile home? Sounds like you got a great price on the home, but if the cost of tenting it is more than the price you paid for the home, it might not be worth tenting. That being said, I’m guessing the price to tent it is quite a bit less than that since mobile homes are typically smaller and easier to set up for fumigation than a full sized house. If the price is less and you can afford it, I would recommend tenting. It is thorough, prevents reinfestations, and is much more reliable than spraying the timber in your mobile home on your own. You can do DIY termite treatment but it does take time and you really have to know what you are doing it and do it right. If you have drywood termites and subterranean termites you really need to make a termite trench around your home (subterranean termite treatment) to them from entering your home from the ground and get some type of fumigation or heat treatment for the interior of your home (where there are likely drywood termites). The other option is a termite trench and complete replacement of the entire timber in your home. There are other ways of doing spot treatments like electronic termite treatment, orange oil, and others but these should only be reserved for truly isolated termite infestations. For example, when only your window trim is infested or a piece of wood furniture or a wood fence. The infestation you are referring to seems systemic (in the entire home). If that is the case, you cannot treat these termites with spot treatment methods.

  7. I am a renter and I found out the house is infested with all three types of termites. The termite inspector was very through. He took pictures and showed me what was wrong. Problem is the landlord did things to cover up that their were termites. He covered up wood termites eat with other wood . I open the kitchen cabinets and a swarm flies out. It was so nasty. I know he will not pay what it cost . I can also see the floors are uneven. Can they eat the floors? I am just ready to get out of this lease because I feel unsafe and that the landlord did not disclose the damage.

  8. I have flying termites in my air conditioning unit. They come out in the night around 3 am. Why do they come out at this time and second, they are on the front of the air conditioning unit. We’re having this problem for the past 4 days. Can you kindly explain why we’re having this problem out of the blue?

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