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Termites with Wings: How to Identify and Treat Flying Termite Swarms

Close up of window frame that has been damaged by termites
Attapon Thana / Shutterstock

Termites are one of the most destructive insects that can invade your home and property. They feed on wooden building components, causing significant damage to your home’s structure. Termites with wings, or flying termites, are a sign that the insects are reproducing. Known as “alates,” male and female flying termites leave existing colonies to reproduce, and set up a new shop elsewhere. Seeing a swarm of flying termites near your home could be a tell-tale sign of an infestation nearby.

If you see a swarm of termites with wings, the next step is to investigate to make sure that a colony hasn’t gathered in your home. If you discover a swarm of flying termites or a colony in your home, have no fear. Start with this guide to learn how to identify these insects and get rid of them fast.

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What do flying termites look like?

Flying termites have two pairs of wings. Their wings are equal in length and have a white — almost translucent — color, with a veiny appearance. These termites also have two straight antennae with a slight curve.

The size and color of the insects will vary depending on the species. However, they tend to be between 1/4 and 3/8 of an inch long and can be light, dark brown, or black.

Close up photo of termite with wings

Marcel Derweduwen / Shutterstock

How do you get flying termites?

Heavy rainfall and warm, humid weather can attract termites. If you live in a cold area, the warmth of your home’s interior can also attract termite colonies — making it prime real estate for reproducing flying termites to create a colony.

Established colonies produce flying termites that will leave the nest due to overcrowding or lack of adequate food. If you see a swarm of termites with wings nearby, it could be an indication that there’s a large colony in or near your home that’s looking to expand.

How to check for flying termites

Swarms of flying termites can be difficult to spot because this is usually a brief event. So keep your eye out for piles of discarded wings — these are a clear sign that mature termites have left their nest nearby to start a new colony. In case of an infestation, you may also notice termite droppings, also known as frass, around the home.

Other general signs of termite activity include:

  • Wood that sounds hollow when tapped
  • The presence of mud tubes found along the foundation of the home
  • Sounds of termite “headbanging” in the walls, which is how termites communicate and often produces a rattling sound that humans can hear
  • Small holes and wood shavings found on nearby trees
  • Noticeable exterior wood damage
  • Hollowed-out wood found on the property
  • Presence of uneven or bubbling paint

Also, check your furry friends for signs of termites. Look for termite wings, droppings, and carcasses of dead termites when bathing and grooming your pet.

How long can flying termite infestations last?

Once mature colonies have produced winged reproductive termites, they will fly off from the colony in large numbers. The termite swarm will last between 30 and 40 minutes, as the swarming termites fly towards a light source.

Swarmers use their wings only to fly a short distance from their nest. Once they find a suitable place to start a new colony, they will break off the wings and will never fly again. They will burrow themselves in the soil where they will build a colony. If they cannot find soil, they will die from dehydration within a few hours.

A winged termite can be the queen or king of a colony, with a queen termite surviving for over a decade under optimal climate conditions.

How to get rid of flying termites

If you see a swarm of termites with wings, start looking for the source colony quickly. You can take steps to get rid of termite colonies, like setting a termite bait, applying a barrier treatment, or calling in the professionals. Whatever treatment you decide on, make sure to start it quickly, before termites can do significant damage to your home’s structure.

Need to get rid of termites quickly? Learn how with MYMOVE’s termite guide.

Products you can use to treat an infestation before flying termites can grow

How to keep flying termites out of your home

Because flying termites are a sign of a thriving colony nearby, the best way to keep the swarms away is to prevent colonies from taking up residence in your home. Here are a few preventative measures you can take:

  • Get rid of any potential entry points: Seal any gaps or cracks in the wooden foundation of your home. Try to keep potential food sources, like mulch, at least a few feet away from your home’s foundation.
  • Make sure you don’t have a moisture problem: Check your crawl space, basement, roof, and foundation for signs of excess water. Remember: Termites love damp areas. Flying termites would see that area under your leaky roof as prime real estate.

The bottom line on termites with wings

Termite colonies can cause significant damage to your home for years without you noticing signs that they’re even there. Keep your eye out for swarms of flying termites, as they’re a sure-fire sign that there’s a thriving colony nearby. If you see a swarm, take action as soon as possible by using home remedies or calling a professional. Once you have eliminated the pests, put in place measures to prevent future infestations.

Frequently asked questions

Can I get rid of termites by myself? 

There are ways to treat termites yourself, but it depends on the severity of the infestation. If you find that DIY methods aren’t working, make sure to call in the pros.

What is the cost of termite treatment? 

That depends on the severity of the infestation. Call a pest control company for a quote, as costs can vary based on the size of the structure to be treated, the foundation of the structure, the technique used, and the type of damage.

Which termite extermination company should I hire? 

Always hire the best termite company in your area. Make sure the technicians are knowledgeable, experienced, professional, licensed, and insured. They should also provide a report and offer a guarantee for their service.

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