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If you’ve seen some flying insects that look like ants near your home, you might wonder, do termites fly? It’s easy to see how people can become confused about this because they’ve seen pictures of termites without wings, yet know that wings on the windowsill are a sign of a termite infestation. What’s the bottom line? Are termites flying insects or not? The answer is a little bit complicated because yes, there are flying termites, and no, most termites don’t fly. Are you even more confused now? Read on, and we will clear things up for you.

The first point to understand is that termites have a very complex social structure, with different castes. There are worker termites, soldier termites, and reproductive termites. Termite colonies are founded by two reproductive termites, known as the king and queen, and their offspring grow into all the different castes of termites. Only one caste of termites can fly, and they can only fly for a short while.

Unless you disturb a termite colony, you are unlikely to see worker or soldier termites. If you do see the workers, they will probably look white and grub-like, unless you look at them closely. Up close, they look something like ants. There are termites you are likely to see, though, without disturbing the colony, and those are the swarmers. They’re darker than the worker termites. Swarmers are young, reproductive termites, known as alates, and they fly out of the colony in a group. They cannot fly very far, and they only fly for a limited time before they shed their wings.

Why do flying termites exhibit this strange behavior? When weather conditions are right, typically in a time of rain, warm weather, and high humidity for Subterranean termites, or hot dry weather for Drywood termites, these young termites are inspired to leave home and find mates. To this end, they fly away from the colony en masse, looking for a mate and a suitable place to start a new colony. Once they’ve paired off and found a suitable spot, they drop their wings, move into the new nest, and become the kings and queens of their own colonies. The rest of their lives are dedicated to reproducing, filling the colony with workers, soldiers, and, eventually, new reproductive termites. Here’s what’s interesting about flying termites: they only fly once, and they’re not very good at it. They can’t fly very far, they don’t fly very fast, and many alates die in the process of trying to find new homes. Only one in every 1,000 termites successfully mates and starts a new colony.

Termite swarmers look something like flying ants, but if you look closely, you will be able to tell the difference. Ants have a pinched in waist, while termites’ bodies are straighter. Further, ants have straight antennae, while termites’ antennae are bent. Swarmer termites and flying ants each have two sets of wings, one in front and one in back. Termites’ wings, though, are equally sized. Ants’ wings, on the other hand, consist of a short pair in front and a longer pair in back.

If you see flying termites on your property, or their wings in your window sills or around your doors, this is a bad sign. Termites only swarm when their colony is well established, and they can only fly about 300 feet. If you have swarmers or evidence of swarmers, then, you have two different problems. You probably have an established colony on your property, and there is probably also a new termite colony starting up somewhere in your home. Seeing flying termites or discarded wings is a clear indication that you need to call for termite treatment.

There are several different types of termite treatment available, but the best way to deal with termites is to use termite prevention strategies to keep them from damaging your home in the first place. How can you prevent termites?

  • Get rid of excess moisture. Fix any leaks, address drainage concerns, excessive condensation, and so on.
  • Don’t allow wood and debris to accumulate around your house. Remove fallen trees, leaf litter, etc., and store firewood off the ground and away from the house.
  • Avoid wood-to-soil contact. This includes pulling mulch away from your foundation.
  • Use only treated wood or timber for construction work. Untreated wood is vulnerable to termite activity.

It also pays to know the signs of a termite infestation. Discarded wings are a sign, but they are far from the only one. You might notice hollow-sounding wood, tiny holes in baseboards and other wood, termite droppings that look like sawdust or sand. Subterranean termites build mud tubes to travel to food sources from their colonies so that they can be protected from light and dry air. If you see these tubes on your home, it’s a sign of termite infestation. And while most termites like to hide from the light, swarmers seek it out, so you might notice swarmers around your porch light.

If you’ve seen evidence of termite swarmers on your property, it’s time to call the termite control professionals at Mighty Mite Termite Services. At Mighty Mite, we’ve earned a reputation as experts in California termite control. We perform termite inspections to ensure that your home is free of termites and work hard to help you keep it that way, using treatments that are naturally derived and have a low impact on the environment. We diagnose and treat infestations with the most effective methods and unmatched warranties, solving your termite problems the first time, with an industry best “no call-back rate.” That, combined with our experience, technology, and highly trained professional staff, makes us the leading extermination company in the Bay Area. We understand that your home is your most important investment, so we work hard to provide excellent service, utilizing best practices to solve our customers’ termite problems. For more information, email, call us today at 408.335.7053, or contact us through our website.