What Are Flying Termites?

The kind of termites you're most likely to see are flying termites. Also called winged termites or swarmers, these look a lot like swarming ants. You may see them flying around in a big cloud or crawling on surfaces. They often head towards sources of light, and can get into your house through cracks in the shell or through windows. They could signal a big problem. Let's take a look at flying termites, what they are, and what it means when you see them.

Flying termites aren't a species of termite. Instead, they're one of the reproductive castes that nearly every type of termite has. This class of termites is the one that does the reproducing, and which establishes new colonies. If you see them, that means there's a termite colony somewhere near your location. If they're heading toward your house, it's a bad sign, since it means they might establish a colony.

However, what's much worse is if these winged termites are seen coming out of your house and flying somewhere else. That indicates that there is a colony of termites somewhere inside the house, and that real damage may be being done to your home. If you're in this situation, you should get in touch with a good exterminator or termite inspector right away, to find out if you have a termite problem. Once you know whether or not there are termites in your home and what kind you have, you can figure out how to deal with them.

You're more likely to see these winged termites in the fall and spring, when temperatures are on the warm side and the air is moist and not too hot. They'll be looking for a new place to start the next colony. Once a male and a female termite have mated, they'll shed their wings. If they get into the house, you may see wings on the floor or around on the ground.

Only two termites are required to start a colony, but they generally travel in much larger groups. Swarms of thousands of flying termites have been reported, and usually several dozen will enter a home if a large enough crack or hole is available. Not all of them will live to establish colonies, but it doesn't take all that much to do real damage to a house.

If you want to stop flying termites from coming into your home, there are a few things you can do. Turn off lights in rooms they like to enter whenever you can, and install a bug zapper some distance from the house. They'll head to the light and be killed. Of course, if you've seen winged termites in or around your home, you should also get in contact with someone who can check out the house. When it comes to termites, you're better off safe than sorry.

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By Frank Reece. Page last modified Nov. 10, 2008.

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