Known as “silent destroyers,” termites can go unnoticed, infesting your home for years. As a result, they can cause damage to your home and to your property.

A swarm of flying termites has the potential to land 50,000 at one time; however, generally, only around 10% of those termites will successfully find a mate and be able to start a new colony. 

So, how do you prevent termites from infesting your home?

What Is a Winged Termite?

Winged termites are commonly known as alates or swarmers. They are subterranean termites in the reproductive stage, and their primary purpose is to fly away from the colony, mate, and form new colonies. 

Typically, it takes a colony three to five years to mature before producing swarmers. Then, when the colony begins to experience overcrowding or a lack of food, both male and female swarmers will leave. 

These insects will reproduce and lose their wings before finding soil to build a new colony. If there is no soil to burrow in, they will dehydrate and die within the first few hours.

What Do Flying Termites Look Like?

Termite alates, a caste of termites that will be queen an king on the colony

While you may not be too keen on examining what winged termites look like, knowing what type of termite infestation you have is essential.

In general, termites with wings have a straight waist and are about ¼-⅜ inches long. They are usually dark brown or black, and their antennas are linear that can be light, dark brown, or black. In terms of the wings on termites, they have two pairs of translucent white wings. All four wings are equal in size and length.

Termites live in large termite colonies and prefer moist, damp soil or wood to create their home. While termites may like to live in wood or hollowed trees, this is also their food source. 

Most termites only live a few years, while queen termites have been known to live up to 50 years.

Signs of a Termite Problem

Flying termite swarms are a warning sign of a termite infestation. If you see winged termites in your home, or just the wings of termites, this may indicate you have a problem.

Here are a few signs that you have a termite problem.

  • The wood around your home sounds hollow.
  • Mud tubes around the foundation of your home.
  • Small holes and wood-shaving around trees.
  • Wood damage to the exterior of your home.
  • Hollowed out wood stumps on your property.
  • Uneven or bubbling paint around your home.

Another tell-tell sign of a termite infestation is termite droppings, known as frass. Termites will not excrete their droppings in the colony nest itself but will create holes in the wood to leave their droppings.

Depending on the type of wood the termites are eating, the pellets will range in color from light brown to black, are oval-shaped with rounded ends, and resemble pepper, dirt, or sawdust.

Flying Termites vs. Flying Ants

close up of a flying ant colony in their nest

Swarmers are often mistaken for flying ants. However, each has its own distinct physical and behavioral characteristics.

Flying ants have a small waist that resembles an hourglass, and their antennae bend at an angle. Termites have a straight body and have straight antennae.

Termites and flying ants both have two pairs of wings. However, the termite’s four wings are equal in size and length, while the flying ant’s front wings are longer than those on the back. 

Termite wing color is also different. Termite wings are a white translucent color, while flying ant wings are brown. 

All About Termite Swarmers

While winged termites are a nuisance and cause you to worry about a termite infestation, swarmers do not cause structural damage. However, they may indicate a termite colony is near your home or yard.

Why Do Termites Swarm?

Termite swarmers are sent out of the colony to reproduce and form new colonies nearby. Typically, termites will swarm during the day, and the swarms will last 30-40 minutes. 

You will often see these insects near warm, damp areas in your home or near any light source.

When Do Termites Swarm?

Termites will swarm at least once a year, beginning in March or when the weather becomes warm and humid. The optimal time to take flight is after a good rain. The water will make the soil soft, so burrowing is easier.  

However, drywood termites and the species R. hageni will swarm during late summer or autumn.  

If you live in cooler climates, termites will still swarm, except they will most likely be attracted to the warmth of your home. Unfortunately, this is not often a good sign!

How to Get Rid of Flying Termites?

close up of dead flying termites on a white floor

Typically, when you see termite swarms, you will have an active colony of termites near your home or property.

Boric Acid

Boric acid is one of the best ways to get rid of termites. It kills the termites, causing dehydration and shutting down their nervous system. Use the acid liberally, spraying in all cracks and holes in the floor, wall, or ceiling.

Bug Zappers

Termites are attracted to light, so place a bug zapper in or near the outside of your home to attract and kill flying termites. This is effective when flying termites manage to get inside your home.

Cardboard Trap

Cardboard traps are another way to get rid of termites, although not very effective. There is no guarantee that it will trap all of the termites in the colony. If you want to DIY a termite cardboard trap, wet two pieces of cardboard and stack them on top of each other.

The cellulose in the cardboard will attract the termites, trapping the termites between the two pieces of cardboard. After the termites have been captured, discard the cardboard by burning it.

Orange Oil Spray 

Orange oil is a natural method for getting rid of termites. Orange oil is an extract from orange rinds that kill termites on contact when combined with D-limonene. In addition, it will break down the termite’s exoskeleton and destroy their eggs. 

Helpful Flying Termite Prevention Tips

termite swarmers on a white wall

There are several ways to prevent flying termites from ever getting inside your home.

First, eliminate all potential entry points in your home, checking floors, walls, and ceilings. If you already have a termite infestation, you can use termite bait and apply effective barrier termite treatment plans.

One of the most effective barrier treatment options is trenching. You’ll need to dig a 4-6 inch trench around your home’s foundation. Then, place an undetectable termiticide solution in the trench and cover. When the termites burrow in the soil, they will pass through the termiticide, killing them as they travel.

Remove all stored wood away from your home, and push the garden mulch away from your home. In addition, remove all tree stumps, fallen trees, and leaf debris in your yard. Without these materials, termites will not build near your home. Introducing nematodes (a type of worm) can also help with this problem.

Moisture also attracts termites. Therefore, you should ensure that there aren’t any leaks, drainage issues, or excessive condensation.