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Understanding Termites with Wings: 1 Best Way To Know

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Understanding Termites with Wings, So you’ve noticed some winged insects buzzing around your home and you’re wondering what they could possibly be. Well, chances are, you might have some unexpected guests in the form of termites with wings. But before you panic and call the exterminator, it’s essential to understand these winged termites, also known as swarmers, and why they’re making an appearance. By gaining a little insight into their behavior and life cycle, you can better protect your home from potential termite infestations. Let’s unravel the mystery of these tiny creatures and shed some light on their unique characteristics.

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Basics of termites with wings

What are termites with wings?

Termites with wings are reproductive members of a termite colony that have developed wings, allowing them to venture out and establish new colonies. These winged termites, also known as alates or swarmers, are the only members of the termite colony that are capable of reproduction.

Why do termites have wings?

The presence of wings in termites serves a crucial purpose – to facilitate the dispersal of the reproductive termites and the establishment of new termite colonies. When a termite colony reaches a certain maturity, usually after a few years, reproductive alates are produced and are ready to embark on their fly-like journey to find their own mates and start new colonies. Their wings allow them to travel further distances and increase the chances of successful colonisation.

Different types of termites with wings

There are two key types of termites with wings: primary and secondary reproductives. Primary reproductives are the most significant individuals, and they are responsible for forming new colonies. Secondary reproductives are backups in case the primary reproductives are lost or unable to fulfill their duties. Secondary reproductives may also help in expanding the size of existing colonies.

Life cycle of termites with wings

Egg stage

The life cycle of termites with wings begins with the egg stage. After mating, the female alate lays eggs, which hatch into larvae. These tiny larvae are looked after and fed by the worker termites until they mature into the next stage.

Nymph stage

The larvae molt and progress into the nymph stage. At this stage, the nymphs resemble smaller versions of adult termites. As they continue to grow, they undergo multiple molts, shedding their exoskeletons as they increase in size.

Soldier and reproductive castes

Within the nymph stage, some individuals develop into soldier or reproductive termites. Soldiers are responsible for defending the colony against threats, while reproductive termites have the potential to develop wings and participate in the swarming process to establish new colonies. The number of reproductives varies depending on the colony’s size and needs.

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Signs of termite infestation with wings

Presence of discarded wings

One of the most noticeable signs of a termite infestation with wings is the presence of discarded wings. After swarming, termites shed their wings as they settle down and begin to establish a new colony. Finding these discarded wings near windowsills, doorways, or other entry points is a strong indication of termite activity.

Mud tubes and tunnels

Termites construct mud tubes or tunnels as a means of transportation and protection. These tubes are typically made from a combination of saliva, feces, and chewed wood. The presence of these mud tubes along the foundation, walls, or other wooden structures is a clear indication of termite infestation.

Wood damage and hollow sounding

Termites feed on wood from the inside out, leaving a hollow sound when you tap on infested wood. If you notice damaged or weakened wood, especially in areas where moisture is present, it could be a sign of termite activity.

Sources of light or warmth

Termites are attracted to sources of light and warmth. If you observe swarms of winged termites near light fixtures, windows, or other areas that emit light or heat, it is likely an indication of an active termite infestation.

Habitat and behavior of termites with wings

Preferred habitats

Termites with wings thrive in environments that provide them with access to food, moisture, and optimal temperatures. They are commonly found in wooded areas and forests, but they can also infest residential and commercial structures, seeking out the wood and cellulose-based materials they need for sustenance.

Colony structure

Termite colonies are highly structured, consisting of different castes that each fulfill specific roles. At the core of the colony is the queen, responsible for egg production. The queen is accompanied by the king, who fertilizes the eggs. Workers, soldiers, and reproductive termites complete the colony structure, with each caste performing different tasks to ensure the success and survival of the colony.

Division of labor

As mentioned earlier, termites have distinct caste roles within their colony. Workers are responsible for nest construction, foraging for food, and caring for the eggs and young termites. Soldiers are tasked with defending the colony against predators or other threats. Reproductive termites are responsible for reproduction and the establishment of new colonies.

Swarming behavior

Swarming behavior involves the winged termites taking flight in large groups in search of mates and new locations to form colonies. Swarms typically occur during specific times of the year when the environmental conditions are favorable. This mass emergence, known as a termite swarm, can be a spectacular yet unsettling sight for homeowners.

Understanding Termites with Wings
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Differences between winged termites and winged ants

Physical characteristics

Winged termites and winged ants have distinct physical characteristics that distinguish them from one another. Termites have straight antennae, equal-sized wings, and a thick waist. In contrast, winged ants have bent or elbowed antennae, varying wing sizes (larger front wings and smaller hind wings), and a narrow or pinched waist.

Life cycle

The life cycle of winged termites and winged ants also differs. Termites undergo incomplete metamorphosis, meaning they experience gradual changes from egg to nymph to adult. On the other hand, winged ants go through complete metamorphosis, including four distinct life stages – egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Wing structure

The wing structure of winged termites and winged ants varies significantly. Termite wings are almost equal in size and are typically longer than their bodies. In contrast, winged ants have forewings that are larger and longer than their hindwings.

Behavior and habits

Termites and ants also exhibit different behaviors and habits. Termites typically feed on wood and other plant materials, and their presence can result in significant structural damage. Ants, on the other hand, have varied diets and can be beneficial in controlling other insect populations.

Prevention and control of termite infestation with wings

Regular inspections and monitoring

Regular inspections and monitoring are essential for detecting early signs of termite infestation. Conduct thorough checks of your property, paying particular attention to the foundation, wooden structures, and areas where moisture is present. If you notice any signs of termite activity, it is crucial to take immediate action.

Moisture control

Termites thrive in moist environments, so implementing moisture control measures can help deter them. Ensure proper ventilation and address any leaks or moisture issues promptly. By reducing excess moisture, you can create an environment that is less favorable for termite infestation.

Proper ventilation

Proper ventilation is crucial in preventing termite infestations. Good airflow helps control moisture levels, reduces humidity, and creates an environment less conducive to termites. Ensure that attics, crawl spaces, and other enclosed areas are adequately ventilated to prevent the buildup of moisture.

Preventive treatments

Consider applying preventive treatments to your property to protect against termite infestations. Soil treatments, wood treatments, and termite baiting systems are common preventive measures that can help create a barrier or deterrent to termite activity. Consult with a pest control professional to determine the best preventive treatment options for your specific situation.

Understanding Termites with Wings
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DIY termite control methods for flying termites

Eliminating moisture sources

To discourage flying termites from infesting your home, it is essential to eliminate potential moisture sources. Fix any leaks, ensure proper drainage around your property, and use dehumidifiers in damp areas. By reducing moisture, you can make your home less attractive to termites.

Repairing and sealing cracks

Flying termites can enter your home through small cracks and crevices. Regularly inspect your property for any openings and seal them with caulk or other appropriate materials. This helps to prevent termites from gaining access to your home and causing potential damage.

Using bait stations or termite traps

Bait stations or termite traps can be effective in controlling termite populations. These devices contain bait that termites consume and take back to the colony, ultimately leading to the elimination of the entire colony. Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer when using bait stations or traps.

Natural remedies and deterrents

Some natural remedies and deterrents can help repel flying termites. Essential oils such as orange oil, neem oil, or tea tree oil can be sprayed around potential entry points to discourage termites. Additionally, using beneficial nematodes or diatomaceous earth in infested areas can help control termite populations.

Professional termite control options

Chemical treatments

Chemical treatments, such as liquid termiticides, can be highly effective in eradicating termite infestations. These treatments are typically applied to the soil around the foundation or directly to infested wood. Professional pest control technicians have the knowledge and equipment to safely administer chemical treatments.


Fumigation is a comprehensive termite control method that involves tenting the entire structure and introducing a gas fumigant to eliminate all termite activity. This method is reserved for severe termite infestations and requires specialized training and equipment.

Heat treatment

Heat treatment involves elevating the temperature within an infested structure to lethal levels for termites. It effectively eliminates termites and their eggs without the use of chemicals. Heat treatment is typically performed by professionals who have the expertise and equipment to execute it safely and effectively.

Termite baiting systems

Termite baiting systems are another professional option for termite control. These systems use bait stations containing a substance that termites are attracted to and consume. The bait is then taken back to the colony, leading to the elimination of the entire termite population. Regular monitoring and maintenance of the bait stations are required for optimal effectiveness.

Frequently asked questions about termites with wings

Do winged termites cause more damage?

Winged termites, especially the reproductive alates, can cause significant damage to structures if left untreated. They can infest wood and other cellulose-based materials, compromising the integrity of the affected structure. It is important to address termite infestations promptly to minimize potential damage.

Can termites with wings bite or sting humans?

Termites with wings do not bite or sting humans. While they may look intimidating, their primary focus is to find suitable mates and establish new colonies. However, termite bites are extremely rare and are typically due to defensive behaviors when termites feel threatened.

How long do termites with wings live?

The lifespan of termites with wings varies depending on various factors, including the specific species, environmental conditions, and the success of the colony they establish. In general, reproductive termites can live for several years, while the worker and soldier termites have shorter lifespans, usually ranging from a few months to a couple of years.

Do all termites have wings?

Not all termites have wings. Only specific members of the termite colony, known as alates or swarmers, develop wings. These winged termites are responsible for mating and establishing new colonies. The majority of the termite colony consists of wingless individuals, such as workers and soldiers, which fulfill other essential tasks.


Termites with wings play a vital role in the life cycle and survival of termite colonies. Understanding their behavior, life cycle, and signs of infestation is crucial in preventing and controlling termite problems. Regular inspections, implementing preventive measures, and seeking professional assistance when needed can help protect your property from the destructive impact of termites. By staying informed and taking proactive steps, you can minimize the risks associated with termite infestations and maintain a termite-free environment.

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