It's a sight that no one wants to see...
But, while swarmers can be pretty nerve-wracking, there are several ways you can get rid of these annoying and destructive pests quickly before 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.
What 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!
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 flag 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 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 a new places to expand their colony.
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 out side 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 some 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 the 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 that 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.