The best ways to get rid of flying termites
Termites are an interesting species within the insect kingdom. They certainly aren't interesting when they are devouring the wood structures within homes, but their behaviors and life stages are certainly versatile in terms of entomology.
You are probably most familiar with subterranean and dry wood termites, which are indeed the two most common species, yet confusion is likely brought into the situation when you see flying termites.
If attempting to rid your home of termites seems like an overwhelming task, the process is even more difficult when figuring out how to repel and prevent a swarm of flying termites. This example of termites is difficult to eradicate, therefore, efforts should be concentrated more on preventing their entry into your dwelling.
In this guide to flying termites, you will learn:
- What winged termites are, what they look like, and when you can expect to spot them
- What makes termites with wings different from non-winged termites
- Multiple ways to kill flying termites and ways to prevent them from entering your home
- If the signs of flying termites are severe enough to warrant a consultation with a professional termite removal company
There are a multitude of ways to rid your home of flying termites, which is important to address quickly as this could be a sign of a mature colony.
What are winged termites?
Flying termites are essentially termites that have matured and left the colony through exit holes on the outside of the infested wood structure. All termite types become flying termites at some point in their lives, and even queen termites will have wings, which allows them to search for a new prospective colony.
Every year mature termite colonies develop a special caste of termites called winged reproductives or â€œalatesâ€. These alates normally reach maturity in spring. The colonies then wait for a suitably humid day, often a very hot day with an afternoon thunderstorm to release all their alates through exit holes.
The exit holes are typically located high in trees, although sometimes they are located inside your house on the outside of infested wood. If you see winged termites swarming inside of your home, this is a most urgent sign of a mature and active interior infestation.
“Discovering winged termites indoors almost always indicates an infestation warranting treatment. Since the swarmers are attracted to light, they are often seen around windows and doors. People often confuse winged termites with ants, which tend to swarm at the same time of year.”
In addition to these warning signs, it may also be important to know what flying termites look like, as not to mistake them for flying ants.
What do winged termites look like?
Flying termites, when viewed from afar, can look like any other swarm of flying insects. Most commonly, they are frequently mistaken for flying ants, who are nearly identical. Winged termites will typically have a thick anatomy in comparison to winged ants; although this can still make it difficult to tell the two species apart.
Termites with wings will essentially resemble a non-winged termite with the addition of a pair of translucent wings that appear veiny when examined up close. Flying termites can also be identified by their distinctive antenna, which will appear straight with a slight curve at the tip.
If you ever spot what appears to be flying termites in your home, this is likely the case since flying ants will seldom ever be seen inside the home or around window seals.
Why do termites swarm?
The most recognizable trait of this type of termite will undoubtedly be the swarming behavior of flying termites, which is a bit like swarming flies around a food source. Termite swarmers will typically be noticeable around the outside of closed windows, or near a wood structure which is being scouted as a possible food source and colony base.
Another facet of swarming termites is that this behavior is usually what occurs during the mating cycle. Once winged termites exit a colony, they will typically begin the process of congregating in the air. This is a mating call of sorts, as the males swarm repeatedly in one spot to attract females.
If you see this occurring inside of your home, this is a clear sign that an active colony has released a new generation of termites to breed and seek new structures to infest. This process does not usually last long, as the males and females mate and then land to shed their wings and start fresh, new colonies.
Are flying termites outside your home bad news?
In all honesty, yes–the sight of flying termites is a sign of active nearby colonies. If you see termite swarmers in your home, chances are you have a termite infestation. This occurrence means that an existing colony has matured to the point where there is a lack of room inside of the structure, which means that a new generation of termites has been expelled through exit holes to start a new colony somewhere nearby.
Since termites are not very apt fliers, seeing them usually means that the colony of origins is within a few feet from the swarm. Once the mating process is complete, this new generation will be on the lookout for a new wooden structure to colonize. If you see winged termites outdoors in your yard, this is a better sign then if you see them indoors.
Exterior termites with wings will often fly around a bit more than an interior swarm. When observed outdoors, these termites are typically on the lookout for an attractive structure to colonize. You will likely see them swarming outside of windows, waiting to find an entry point into the isolated wood inside of a home.
If you observe winged termites outside your home or around your yard, take every measure possible to destroy them, especially when they are swarming near windows.
Cedar Bug-Free Termiticide is a powerful aerosol spray made from natural ingredients to have as an arsenal for spot killing termite swarmers. Simply spray the chemical in a sweeping motion when you see a swarm congregating.
Can termites fly into your house and eat your wood?
When termites are flying, they are either mating or seeking a new wooden structure to infest and colonize. It isn't so much a matter of will they get into your home to eat said wood, it is more a matter of they are actively seeking wood to start a new colony. Since the wood inside of your home is ample and undisturbed, they will seek this out.
Sometimes, you may find lots of tiny wings on the floor. After termites pair up to reproduce, they shed their wings and settle down to start a new colony. Even if you didn't see the actual swarm of flying termites, you might find evidence of their reproductive frenzy in a pile of little termite wings on the floor.
How do termites get in your house?
Termites with wings have a somewhat easier time getting inside of a home than the points of their lives when they do not have wings. Most flying termites will enter through open windows, doors, or other small entry points leading into a house. Once inside, they will find suitable structures to colonize.
Are termites dangerous?
Termites of any variety are not inherently dangerous to humans. The problem that comes with termites in our surroundings is that these insects can degrade a house from the inside out, costing people potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs. There are also health risks that could potentially arise from a termite invasion.
Termites usually consist of thousands of members inside of one colony, which resides inside of the wood structures of your home. The insects feed on cellulose that is found inside of wood and workers spend hours each day harvesting this compound from wood with shredding mandibles that extract the substance from wood. During this process, tiny particles of wood are released into the atmosphere of the home that appears as common dust.
This can be problematic for individuals who suffer from asthma or any other bronchial or respiratory ailments. HVAC and heating systems can also aggregate the dust and spread it evenly throughout your home.
Allergic reactions from termite waste and saliva are also possible. Apart from the general structural damage that will arise once flying termites begin the colonization process, they are not specifically dangerous in and of themselves; it is what they can cause that brings danger.
How long do termites live for?
Winged termites are only just that for a very short amount of time. They are the sub-sect of a colony known as alates, which serve the purpose of maturing into winged termites to leave the colony to mate and form new colonies elsewhere. They are a generational extension of sorts for the termite species.
Once they mate and find a new structure to colonize, they shed their wings and give birth to a new generation of termite workers and soldiers. The entire length of their lifespan is generally one to three years, with queen termites living up to a decade or longer if left undisturbed.
The length of time that termites have wings can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks depending on the mating cycle and the acquisition of a new structure to colonize.
Do flying termites bite people?
Termite swarmers have been known to softly bite people if their swarming activity is interrupted but the bite is not painful and seldom ever occurs. Although termites will not go out of their way to bite humans or other animals, they can be dangerous in some ways to humans if they are colonizing inside of a home. If you discover flying termites in your home, the only way you could possibly be bitten is if you disturb the termites.
You do not have to worry about winged termites biting humans, but there is cause to worry if you see them swarming inside of your home.
What does it mean when termites shed their wings?
After termites swarmers have completed the mating process and have successfully found a new structure to colonize, they will shed their wings and start to work on establishing a new colony.Â
One positive thing about finding termite wings is that this usually means you are very close to the structure that is housing the new colony, which will make the inspection process much easier.
Signs you might have a termite infestation
There are many possible things to look for with possible infestations. Signs of winged termites swarming indoors is a clear indication. When this happens, your home can be inundated with thousands of flying termites, which is the first indication that your home could be infested by termites.
Termites have many different ways of leaving signs that they have infested structures within your home. These signs are usually the only signs available to ensure that termites are present. Exit holes are small holes in wood, drywall, sheetrock and any structure that contains cellulose which termites feed on.
If you find objects or structures that have these tiny holes, it is important to inspect the surrounding area for other signs that verify termite activity, such as frass, pellet droppings, or mud tunnels surrounding the structure. These holes are made by the termites to make a barrier to the outside world where alates can exit the nest to reproduce.
Products to kill termites with wings:
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1. Termite spray
If you are seeking to kill termites when they are still in their winged format, you will want to invest in an aerosol spray with a good aim, far reach, and quick knock-down potential. Spectracide Terminate is perhaps one of the most powerful and trusted termite sprays on the market.
Utilizing a powerful chemical that specifically targets all forms of termites, this spray can be utilized to knock flying termites down instantly. It may take some time to completely eliminate all termite swarmers in one area, but the process is certainly worth it.
2. Termite foggers
The chemicals inside of different termite foggers can vary from the highly toxic to the generally mild, yet the poison is distributed so widely and to virtually every item inside of a room, that saturation becomes an issue if proper tenting and prepping is not followed.
The poison coats all the surrounding surfaces of a room and makes the room a toxic environment for any present winged termites.
Structural difficulties are the main problem with using foggers to kill termites, as the very nature of the gas can cause termites to scatter to get away from the poison or burrow deeper into structures to escape it. Although foggers will certainly kill flying termites that are constantly exposed to the exterior of a colony; the soldiers, kings and the queen will likely never encounter the gas and thus the colony will not be destroyed.
Hot Shot No-Mess Fogger is probably the best all-purpose fogger to destroy winged termites. If you choose to utilize this effective fogger, be sure and follow fogging prepping procedures on the label thoroughly.
3. Apply termite poison to window seals and doors
Winged termites will try and enter the home from the outside, therefore a powerful residual poison is a good method to utilize to make the exterior of a window or door poisonous to the touch. Taurus SC is one of the more powerful termiticides with a strong residual component.
Apply the poison liberally to the exterior coating of windows and their seals. Apply the chemical around door frames as well. The residual will dry and become effective for weeks after application.
4. Professional termite control
DIY measures when battling termites are not always recommended since termites are such a difficult pest to eradicate. Most DIY measures fail the first time around, and it would likely be much easier to simply consult a professional termite control specialist to fully assess and eliminate your termite problem. This is especially true for termites with wings due to the ability of termites to simply fly away from control measures.
Natural home methods to get rid of flying termites
Flying termites who are swarming inside of your home is a devastating sign, but the accessibility to hire a professional may not always be an immediate remedy. Thankfully, there are some household products you can take from daily supplies in your home to kill and repel winged termites.
Take a spray bottle and fill it with a half and half mixture of water and vinegar; add some lemon juice for an even more potent effect. Aim the nozzle at termite swarmers and spray them making sure to hit them with the mixture of have them fly through it. Vinegar is lethal against termites.
Additionally, you can use an electric fly swatter to swat down as many of the swarmers as you can, this is a bit difficult but effective if you have good aim. Unlike flies and mosquitoes, flying termites are not usually attracted to sources of light, so a fly trap may not be a good product for this type of insect.
Although there aren't many home remedies that can work towards flying termites per se, a vinegar and water solution is certainly just as lethal a termite killer as more advanced chemical formulations.
Flying termites are simply regular termites of the alate subgroup that grows wings to leave a colony for breeding and scouting for new structures to colonize. Their sight inside of a home is an alarming sign since this means that an active colony is inside of the home. There are numerous ways to get rid of flying termites, but it should first be established that the swarms you are seeing are in fact termites and not the commonly mistaken flying ant.
A combination of sprays, foggers, and preventive measures will usually get rid of flying termites that are visible inside of your home, but you will certainly want to consult a professional for an assessment to find a possible active colony within your wooden structures.
- Department of Entomology-University of Kentucky. (2019). Termite Control: Answers for Homeowners. Retrieved from https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef604.
- Inta, Ra et al. (2007). Termites live in a material world: an exploration of their ability to differentiate between food sources. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2373396/.