As the weather changes from winter to summer, and the humidity level rises, so does the risk of termite infestation in your home.
As homeowners, you should know how to get rid of flying termites in case of any termite infestation. If you see swarms of flying termites around your home, it should be a warning sign that:
- You may already have an existing termite problem
- Your home may be at risk of potential termite infestation.
The actual swarmer themselves do not cause damage. It is their offspring, which have the power to cause structural damage if they find solid ground and start a new colony. If they are successful, these silent killers will slowly eat away at your property.
In this blog, we will discuss what they look like and explain how to get rid of flying termites as quickly as possible. If you notice flying termites around your property, request professional service from an experienced termite inspector.
What are Flying Termites?
Flying termites are the reproductive members of their termite colonies. These winged termites are also called “swarmers” or “elates” because of the way they fly together in groups.
Flying termites are responsible for seeking mates, laying eggs, finding a suitable location, and establishing a new colony to become home to thousands or even (in rare cases) millions of offspring.
Termite swarms are triggered by rain and high humidity. It can occur throughout the year but are most common when the weather is warmer, particularly in the spring.
The species of the termites and geographical location can also factor into the termite swarm. Once they’ve mated and found a place to start a new colony, they shed their wings. The most common species of flying termites in Texas are subterranean termites and dry wood termites.
Subterranean termites are known for their underground activities. These swarmers usually develop and appear when a colony is between three to five years old. They usually construct mud tubes which they use as passageways to forage for food.
Drywood termites typically infest dry, sound woods like lumber, fences, poles, and decks. They harvest necessary moisture from the wood they are infesting. Drywood termites leave their mud tubes and home in the wood to start a colony.
Do Termites Fly?
Yes, some termites can fly, but not all of them. Termites don’t fall into the flying insect category like wasps and/or mosquitoes. Only a small set of termites can fly, but they do so for a short period.
A termite colony is split into groups known as castes. Each caste has a particular role in the colony. They are:
- Termites king and queens
- Alates/ winged termites/ flying termites.
Out of all termites, only the alates are equipped with wings. These are the only termites that are winged during their reproductive stage and able to start a new colony.
When do Flying Termites Come Out?
Termites develop wings when the colony needs expansion. Usually, termite colonies mature within three to four years. During their breeding season (which is generally mid-February to March), alates will leave the nest to seek out mates and find a new location to start a new flying termite nest.
Most termites fly during the day while others are night, using light as meeting spots. After fertilization, these swarmers head towards the ground where they shed off their wings and attempt to form their colony.
The exact timing of a swarm depends on several factors: geographical location, temperature, rainfall, and humidity. Many subterranean termites begin swarming in the spring when there is plenty of rainfall and rising humidity.
What do Flying Termites Look Like?
A termite infestation can quickly blow out of proportion if you have no idea what winged termites look like.
All termites have six legs, an abdomen that isn’t segmented, a big head, and a pair of straight antennae with a slight curve to them. They have two large, translucent wings on either side of the body, roughly 3 centimeters long, and extend far past their bodies. Their thorax and abdomen are roughly the same widths, making them have a thick-waisted appearance.
The size and color of flying termites in Texas will vary depending on the species. Drywood termite swarmers range in color from red to dark to pale tan with transparent or smoky gray wings. Their wings measure about twice the size of the alate’s body when unfolded in flight.
Subterranean termite swarmers are approximately three-eight to an inch long and are dark brown or blackish. Whereas workers and soldiers are usually ta, dark orange, or light brown.
When Do Flying Termites Come Out?
Flying termites are attracted to light. Once they see a body of water rainfall, they swarm closer to sources of light like street lamps or your home’s fluorescent lamp.
After a couple of hours, this group of flying insects shed their wings and start to crawl on the ground before they eventually die.
While it’s not easy to spot if you have termites at home, flying termites are one of the clearest signs of a termite problem and they could mean trouble in your home. When winged termites emerge, it’s an obvious sign of termite infestation and you need to know how to get rid of flying termites immediately.
How Long Do Flying Termites Live?
Flying termites don’t live for long after they have taken flight, typically remaining aloft for about an hour. After that, their wings fall off, they plummet to the ground, and then perish due to termite-eating critters.
However, don’t let the fact that flying termites don’t last more than a day put you at ease. By the time you notice their presence, they’ve built a mature and successful nest in your area, perhaps for years.
Flying termites exist before they spread out to find good locations to create a flying termite nest for their own. Flying termites who can find mates can live for more than half a decade, create thriving colonies, and cause serious damage to your property.
Flying Termites vs. Flying Ants
Flying termites are commonly mistaken for flying ants and although at first glance, they appear similar in size and color, there are some notable differences to look out for. To tell if you’re dealing with flying ants or termites, look out for the following characteristics:
- Wings: All four wings of the termite are of equal length and width, whereas the two front wings on the ant are usually double the size of the two back wings.
- Waist: Flying termites have a thick waist that is about the same width as the thorax and abdomen. Flying ants are more segmented with a thinner waist.
- Antennae: The antennae of the ant have a longer segment that bends mid-point at a 90-degree angle, as opposed to the flying termite, which has a straight antenna from the beginning to end.
- Color: Ants are darker in color than termite which is usually light golden color with translucent, veiny wings.
- Body: Flying termites are slightly bigger than ants by around 2-3 millimeters and are only made of the head and body, as opposed to the ants which are made up of a head, body, and tail.
If you see termites around your home, it’s time to secure proper service from a professional termite exterminator. SafePro Pest Control ensures that flying termites in Texas are no longer going to be flying your home. Contact us today to learn more about our services.
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How to Identify Flying Termites in Texas
Termites can become an expensive problem if they aren’t taken care of quickly. Left unchecked, they can damage the structure of your home by slowly eating away your foundation.
The initial swarm of termites isn’t going to be your biggest issue. Their offspring is where the trouble begins, especially when they look for more breeding grounds to start their colonies.
Swarms around your home might mean that you already have a termite problem, or it is a sign that you are about to have a major infestation. If you suspect this, conduct a visual inspection or call a pest control company to determine the nature of your problem and how to get rid of flying termites.
Here are some tell-tale signs of flying termite infestation:
Mud tubes look like narrow veins along the side of your home. These tubes start from the ground and tend to run towards areas with exposed wood.
Termites use mud tubes to protect themselves from dry air and as a highway for them to get around. Subterranean flying termites need humid air to survive and these tubes allow them to safely travel from their colony to food sources.
If you find mud tubes, you can confirm a termite problem by breaking off a piece of the tube and checking for termites. Even if you don’t find any, come back later to check if the tube has been repaired.
If you don’t find any termites and the mud tube has not been repaired, it doesn’t mean you’re in the clear. They might have moved to other parts of your home.
Termite Swarmers and Discarded Wings
A sure sign of termite activity is a swarm of winged termites or alates. These termites are only present once a colony has matured and needs expansion.
Termites have a caste system that consists of kings/queens, workers, soldiers, and swarmers (the reproductive members of a termite colony). After a swarmer leaves the colony and finds a mate, it sheds its wings.
Since swarmers are attracted to light, they tend to be around doors and windows. They also don’t live very long indoors, so you might find dead swarmers or piles of discarded wings near entryways. If you notice this, then it’s ample evidence you have a termite problem.
Stuck Windows or Doors
Do you have a window or door that recently feels stuck, or suddenly becomes much harder to open or close? This can sometimes be a sign of termite infestation.
Termites tend to target locations like windows and doors, so they have easy access to wood. As termites begin to eat through the wood, it may cause your windows and door frames to warp, making it difficult to open and close them properly.
Besides stuck windows and doors, termites can cause other structural problems such as blistered wood flooring or sagging floors and ceiling. These structural problems may be a result of wood rot or seasonal changes in humidity. Look closely for damaged wood with termites or tunnels containing dried dirt to determine if you have a termite problem.
Other signs of flying termite infestation are:
- Damage under paint or wallpaper
- Small holes and wood shavings were found in nearby trees
- Woods that sound hollow when tapped
How are Flying Termites Treated?
While it’s important to understand the DIY methods on how to get rid of flying termites, it’s equally important to be careful of the type of treatment you use in your home.
Different species of termites require specific treatment for their behaviors. Using the wrong over-the-counter solution may cause problems in the long run. The best course of action is to call a professional to diagnose your problem and recommend proper treatment.
Nonetheless, you can try a DIY trap using cardboard boxes and water. Cut the boxes into large pieces, soak them in water, and then leave them outside. Once the flying termites have taken the bait, you can spray them with bug killer. It is possible to burn the cardboard, but only if you can control the fire.
How to Protect Your Home from Flying Termites?
Flying termites are a sign of a thriving colony nearby and the best way to keep the swarms away is to take necessary actions to prevent colonies from taking up residence in your home. Here are a few preventative measures you can take.
- Get rid of their entry point: By sealing any gaps or cracks in the wooden foundation of your home. Try to keep potential food sources like mulch far away from your property. If there is nothing to attract them, they are less likely to take interest in your building.
- Do everything possible to avoid moisture problems: Flying termites see moisture as part of their wake-up call. Check your crawl spaces, basement, roof, and foundation for excess water. Keep them nicely clean and dry always.
- Inspect your home regularly: Check the roof’s subfloors and wood for any signs of flying termites. The earlier you spot them, the quicker you know how to get rid of flying termites.
The most effective way to treat a termite infestation in your home is with the help of a termite control professional. SafePro Pest control has decades of experience dealing with flying termites in Texas. Our experienced termite control professionals know how to get rid of flying termites.
Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation inspection. We’ll send one of our termite control specialists to understand your termite problem. After that, we’ll develop a customized treatment plan that is designed to protect your home for years to come.