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Flying termites means serious trouble

It might be said that seeing termites with wings is the insect equivalent of having a black cat cross your path – in other words, a sign of bad luck.

But if you see swarms of flying termites around or inside your home, it should act as a warning sign for two potential dangers:

  1.  You may already have an existing termite problem.
  2.  Your home may be at risk of potential termite infestation.

However, the actual termite swarmers themselves do not cause damage. It is their offspring, which have the power to damage your property once they land and search for a suitable location to start a new colony.

If you find any of the signs of termites or their swarmers, contact your local Ehrlich Pest Control branch right away. Stop the damage before it gets too severe.

Flying termites

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What do swarming termites look like?

Termite swarmers, also referred to as alates, exist in many termite species including the most common types found in the United States: drywood, subterranean, and dampwood. Swarmers are adult reproductive termites that emerge from their colonies in large groups looking for their next home. They are brown to black in color and have straight antennae, four translucent wings, and a broad waist.

Overhead view of a brown and black flying termite with four translucent wings.

Some ant species also swarm around the same time of year, so you might confuse the two. However, flying ants have bent antennae, a larger set of forewings compared to the rear wings, and a narrower waist. Treatment for termites and ants differs significantly, so proper identification is crucial.

A black and brown winged flying termite compared to a black and brown winged flying ant.

Signs of a termite swarm

Some experts say it is difficult to tell if you have termites. However, when termites with wings emerge from the nest to take flight, suddenly, you are presented with a very obvious, and not so subtle, sign of termites. 

Another sign of a termite swarm is discarded wings. After swarmers take flight, they shed their wings, and if you have an infestation, you may find piles of wings around your property’s foundation.

Flying termites or termite swarmers

HEADS UP: If you see winged termites indoors, you may have an existing problem. In other words, you may have termite-damaged timber or damaged furniture in your home.

When do termites swarm?

Termite swarm season starts in February and lasts through the summer months. You may see swarms of winged termites, especially when the ambient air temperatures begin to rise. This change in temperature triggers the young adult winged termites to emerge from their nests in large groups. Some termite species swarm during the day while others swarm toward light sources at night. All drywood termites tend to swarm after rain at particular times of the year.

How long do termites swarm for?

The length of a termite swarm can depend on the species and environmental conditions. If a house has an infestation, termites can swarm out of the walls for 20 minutes to an hour, and that can go on for a couple of days depending on the colony size. If you don’t see the swarm, you’ll find the discarded wings we mentioned earlier. 

Multiple winged flying termites flying around a hanging light.

Why do termites swarm?

Put simply: It signals the start of a new termite colony.

During certain times of the year, termite colonies produce swarmers that leave their current colony to find mates and establish new colonies elsewhere. Swarming is the means by which sexually mature termites with wings leave their nest because of overcrowding or lack of sufficient food. Once the male locates a female he likes, they break off their wings, symbolizing that they are a couple. The new couple then selects a nest location, mates, and becomes king and queen of a new colony. The queen has been known to live for 30 or more years. Yikes.

A pest control technician kneeling on the grass placing a termite control bait system in front of bushes in a residential yard.

How to get rid of swarmer termites

A regular inspection of your home is key to preventing a termite infestation. Built-up moisture in the wood resulting from damaged timber on your property can attract termites. Below are a few things you can do now to protect your home and get rid of termites:

  • Correct moisture issues such as leaks, drainage concerns, excess condensation, etc.
  • Watch heating and cooling units closely for condensation issues
  • Remove extraneous wood and debris from near your home and your yard, including construction materials, fallen trees, stumps, leaf litter, etc.
  • Avoid wood-to-soil contact
  • Keep mulch pulled back from the foundation
  • Do not stack firewood next to your home – keep it at a distance
  • Do not use untreated wood or timber in construction projects such as decks, sheds, etc.

Termite inspections are essential for early detection of termite activity on your property. If you think you might have termites in your home, the sooner you call for help, the better. Ehrlich knows that no two homes are alike. Our termite experts will work with you to develop a customized plan that’s right for your home and family. Contact us today.

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