So, you need to quickly get rid of flying termites around your home (or in your home)!
In this comprehensive termite guide, you’ll learn:
- How to identify flying termites
- How to get rid of flying termites using DIY home remedies
- How to prevent future flying termites
- And a lot more
We’ll cover everything you need to know in one place so you don’t need to go all over the ‘net picking up tiny bits and pieces of information. (I hate that!)
Feel free to bookmark this page so you can easily refer back during your journey to rid these winged pests!
Ready? Let’s dive right in and go flying termite-free!
What’s a flying termite?
A flying termite is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a termite with wings!
But it goes beyond that. When you see a winged termite, it could mean that you have a serious termite infestation. They’re also called “swarmers” because they swarm around streetlights and other light sources.
Depending on the species, they swarm both day and night.
The winged termite is NOT a different termite species. It’s a “class” of the termite caste system in a colony. The winged termites are destined to be the kings and queens of future colonies.
So when you see winged ones, they’re actually the most “privileged” class that has given the ability to fly out of their nest and meet other termites to mate.
And they’ll eventually start a new colony after that.
What do they look like?
Winged termites have two pairs of gray to white wings with a black body. They almost look like large ants with wings. Each flying termite can range from 0.25″ up to 0.375″ and will vary depending on the species.
Most of them are very light in terms of color, with whitish or grayish wingspans. Worker and Solider termites are also light, so it’s important to not get them confused.
Flying termites are usually a little darker than Worker termites and may be even black in appearance. The color varies on the species, but the swarmers usually are darker to retain moisture during their nuptial flight.
All termites, whether they’re winged or not, have the following characteristics:
- A pair of straight antennae that are beaded
- No segmented abdomen
- Large, beady head
- 6 legs
Check out this video by ehowgarden for some tips:
The flying termites are mature reproductive adults. Each established colony has 6-10 kings on average that mate with the queen during her “reign.”
Some colonies have up to 3 queens, but most only have 1 or 2. Only the kings and queens can fly and swarm to mate with other swarmers from neighboring colonies. The kings and queens are the only sexually active members of any colony.
The lifecycle of a winged termite is the same as a regular termite. It goes from egg to nymph to adult.
As an adult, they emerge as different classes in their caste. Those that end up being swarmers will develop wings. All termites are paurometabolous, meaning they have multiple stages of nymph development. It ranges from 5-12 different instars until they reach maturity.
As they develop, the winged termites will eventually leave the colony when resources are low or it becomes fully established. They’ll swarm with other swarmers around a light source and then formulate pairs to start a new colony.
The king will mate with the queen, as that’s his only role. Once the queen starts a colony, there can be up to 1000 eggs per day depending on the species.
She starts small until there are enough Workers present. Some queens have been known to make over 10,000 eggs daily!
How do you tell the difference between flying ants and termites?
The easiest way to tell the difference between flying ants and termites is to carefully inspect the species.
Flying ants and flying termites have distinct appearances that are quite easy to see with some basic approaches. You don’t even need a microscope- the naked eye is enough.
This is important because if you try to eliminate the wrong species, you’ll probably end up with no success. You need to be able to tell which species you’re dealing with so you can use the right extermination methods.
You don’t want to use DIY home remedies to get rid of flying termites when in reality you have flying ants. Or vice versa. That’d be a waste of time.
Here are some common phenotypic features of flying ants:
- Bent, elbow-shaped antennae
- A tapering waist
- Two sets of wings
- Unequal length wingspans
And here are some phenotypic features of swarming termites:
- Straight, non-bent antennae
- Small beads lining the antennae
- A broad, non-tapering waist
- Two sets of wings that are identical
Can all termites fly?
Not all termites have the ability to fly. The reality is that only a small species of termites can actually fly, And even if they can, they’re very bad at flying.
They typically only can fly for a very short period of time as they shed their wings after mating.
Flying vs. non-flying termites
Termites are split into castes within their colony. There are three groups: Workers, Soldiers, and Alates. The ability to fly is exclusive to Alates as they’re the only termite class with working wings.
They’re also known to become the next “ruler” of the termite colony. When you see a swarm of termites, they’re all Alates and have been determined to become a future termite king or queen.
Do termite swarmers cause damage?
No. The flying termites don’t do any damage to your home or timber. The termites shouldn’t be ignored though. The swarmers are basically mating termites which will eventually lay thousands of offspring. The offspring are the termites that’ll destroy your home.
That’s why it’s very important to act quickly when you notice swarmers.
When you see a swarm of termites, this could mean that you have a serious termite problem already, or it could be an oncoming termite problem.
It really depends on where you see the swarm:
- If you see winged termites inside your home, you very likely have a serious termite problem.
- If you see winged termites outdoors, you may have a termite problem depending on how protected your home currently is.
Why do flying termites do?
They’re basically the mating class of a termite colony. They’re designated to be the kings and queens of future colonies.
And when you notice them in a swarm, that’s always a sign of a current or future termite infestation.
The swarmers are mating and eventually will start new colonies. Swarming is when the males and females with wings leave their current colony. This is usually because it’s currently overcrowded or there aren’t enough resources.
Seeing winged termites in your home means that there are multiple colonies that are “full.” This means you have a serious termite problem.
After they fly off and leave the colony, the males and females breed throughout these swarms to produce future colonies. The males and females actually will shed their wings after they match, which is pretty unique for a pest.
The shed wings show other swarmers that they’ve selected a mate. Afterward, the male and female will find a new nesting site, mate, and then becomes the new king and queen of the colony.
This typically isn’t a problem as the swarmers are harmless. But it’s the future termites that they’ll produce which will cause many problems for your home later down the line.
Are flying termites bad?
Flying termites are bad. It’s a sign that you have a very obvious and serious sign of termites. If you see flying termites around your home, this is almost a sure sign of a termite problem.
When you see flying termites, there are multiple scenarios you should consider:
- If you see them indoors, they’ve already likely established a colony within your home and are eating up your wood and furniture.
- If you see a swarm outdoors, this could just be termites meeting up to breed. This is less of a concern since it doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily a problem for your home. The thing to watch out for is where you see the swarm:
- If you find a termite swarm outdoors nearby your home (such as your yard), you’d want to look for other signs of a termite problem.
And if you find a swarm far away from your home (30 feet or more), you should be less concerned as they’re probably just mating colonies.
Signs of flying termites
Flying termites are most easily identified by their dual set of large wings.
Their wings are the same length and they have a beady, black head. They’re also very clumsy and walk slowly, and are also very poor flyers.
Other signs you use to can identify swarmers:
- Shed wings near your windows
- Timber within your roof
- Swarms of termites around streetlights or other light sources
- Wood shavings
- Swarmers crawling around on the floor in bathrooms and kitchens
- Winged termites in your sink, shower, or humid environments
- Winged termites on your window sills
They’re very easy to spot and not difficult to identify. Once you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. The only real pest that they get commonly confused with flying ants. Check out the section above to tell the difference between fly ignorant ants and termites.
What are flying termites attracted to?
Flying termites are attracted to light sources, whether the light is artificial or natural.
In today’s urban areas, flying termites are often found around light sources like:
- Street lights
- Patio lighting
- Deck lighting
- Pathway markers
- Outdoor lights
- Window lights
- Exterior lighting
- Pool lights
- Security lights
Any type of light will attract them. It doesn’t matter if it’s LED or fluorescent. They seem to fly towards anything that emits a source of warm light.
Why do they swarm?
Termites swarm exclusively for breeding and mating purposes. A swarm notes the beginning of a new termite colony.
During a swarm, swarming termites seek out partners for breeding. Sexually mature males and winged females will abandon their nest and fly, to which they’ll then join each other in a huge swarm. The congregation of flying termites will mate with other termites from another colony.
This ensures a good mixture of genes since the termites will mate with flying termites from a different colony rather than their own.
When termites leave their nest to seek out termites from other colonies, they’re in what’s called “nuptial flight.” This isn’t exclusive to just termites. Some species of ants do the same type of flight.
The point of the flight is for mating purposes. After the flying termites mate, they’ll land and shed off their wings. Then the new colony of termites is started, which will just lead to more pest problems for homeowners.
Check out this video fo a termite swarm by TDtangents:
When do termites swarm?
Termite swarming “season” usually happens during early spring. They usually start mating when temperatures start to pick up and especially after it rains. They’re known to sense the environment and pick up environmental cues to determine the proper time to swarm.
This is critical to termite propagation because if each colony swarms at different times, they may never end up finding each other. They need to be synchronized to all swarm simultaneously, which they can do using environmental cues.
Winged termites will fly towards light sources that are strong and warm. This usually is where you’ll find them during the night as they swarm. You won’t find them during the night. In fact, the majority of Subterranean termites swarm during the day only.
And Formosan termites will swarm only during the night. The species of the pest will affect when they actually swarm. So there’s no definite answer. It varies down to the species.
Do swarming termites mean infestation?
It depends on where you find them. If you find swarming termites in your home (such as scattered around your windows or bathrooms), this is bad. They’ve probably already established multiple colonies in your home.
And you already have a serious infestation. You’ll need to act quickly as your home’s structural integrity is at stake!
However, if you find them outdoors, then it depends on where you find them. If you see swarmers around your home, such as your garden, then you could have a termite problem. It really depends on how well-protected your home against termites.
The swarms outdoors could mean termites from inside your home are swarming outside, or a new colony may be making it into your home. Be sure to check for termite signs throughout your home.
But if you see a swarm very far from your home, such as 30 feet or more, then you should have no concern. You probably just happened to spot a swarm of them mating from your neighbors’!
How do flying termites get in your house?
Flying termites come into your home from any available entryways. This means windows with broken screens, open doors, or even from within your home.
Depending on the termite species, there are multiple ways they can enter your home. If you already have termites, flying ones means that the colonies have no more resources.
The flying termites will escape the colony in search of a mate. You may never even notice them until they actually leave the colony.
After they leave, they’ll fly around your home and congregate within a well-lit or dark area. Again, whether they prefer light or dark depends on the species.
If you want a list of where flying termites come from, here are the most common entry points:
- Damaged or broken window screens
- Damaged or broken patio door screens
- Open doors
- Crevices around your doors or windows
- Pet doors
- Cracks in your foundation
- Attic soffits
- Basement vents
- Within the home
There are many ways flying termites can get into your home, but the most common way seems to be from termite colonies already established.
The flying termites abandon the colony and fly around your home. This is why you sometimes notice them come out of nowhere all of a sudden. You could’ve had a termite problem for the longest time but never was aware of it until you see flying swarmers.
How long do flying termites live?
The alates are the flying termites. They start out as any other termite but have a working set of wings. They leave the colony in search of alates from other colonies. During this phase, they’re capable of flight.
After they find a partner, they’ll fly together to a new location and being a new colony. The queen flying termite can live up to 30 years in some species. Most queen termites live up to 10 years on average.
Flying termites are a short phase of a termite’s lifecycle.
There are three termite castes:
You’ll only see them flying for a short time, but that doesn’t mean they have a short lifespan. The flying portion of their life deems to be just a short phase.
Do flying termites eat wood?
No, they don’t. But that’s not the problem.
Flying termites are the start of a new termite colony which will eventually eat your wood and destroy your home.
This is why you should never ignore flying termites and always take action as soon as you notice them. If you notice winged ones within your home, you should check for hidden colonies in crevices.
While the flying termites don’t eat wood, the new colony they produce will. And all the established colonies that already exist within your house are already eating up your timber.
What home remedy can I use to get rid of flying termites?
There are a few DIY solutions you can utilize at home to get rid of flying swarmers. You should always use a natural approach when possible to avoid using dangerous poisons and residues.
Here are some home remedies you can easily do at home to manage, control, and prevent swarmers that are in your home or garden.
Here are some home remedies you can easily do at home to manage, control, and prevent swarmers that are in your home or garden.
Please note: Although the following home remedies can help you get rid of and control flying termites, you should still seek out professional help to control your termite problem.
Even though you get rid of the flying swarmers, you probably have a lot more established colonies littered throughout your home. It’s imperative that you do something about these colonies or else they’ll continue to destroy your home.
The flying termites are harmless in comparison to the workers and soldier termites. If you have flying termites, they should be of least concern. Your focus should be to eliminate the current colonies.
1. Rubber mulch
One popular DIY home remedies to keep flying termites away is to use rubber mulch. This mulch can be purchased at any hardware store and is made from recycled tire material.
The rubber has no cellulose to fuel Subterranean termites, which nest in the soil. Termites eat the cellulose provided by regular soil, but mulch has none.
Thus, the Subterranean termites won’t be attracted to your yard as a source of food and will avoid it. Subterranean termites nest within your soil outdoors. Whereas Drywood termites nest within your wood and timber.
The rubber mulch also distributes moisture unevenly. This results in excess humidity levels around your home. This is a double-edged sword because it attracts more Subterranean termites since they seek out water.
In other words, they don’t like mulch because they can’t eat it. But they like the excess water it provides. They need both water and food to survive. If they make their way from the rubber mulch into your home’s timber, this could be a problem.
The trick is to use rubber tire mulch and make sure it drains well. Replace your soil with this mulch for best effect. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you should probably avoid this because it can cause more harm and damage.
This will help get rid of termites with wings from developing in the future. By preventing the colony from starting, there can’t be any winged termites from emerging from the colony.
2. Cedar mulch
Cedar mulch is made from plant and wood material and Subterranean termites hate the colors and resins found this mulch. You can use cedar mulch around your home and swap out all-natural organic soil for cedar.
Defend your home with a physical barrier. Cedar mulch acts as a natural repellent to termites when used properly.
Be sure that you use well-draining cedar mulch setups, or else you’ll collect excess water and defeat the purpose.
3. River rock
River rock is a nice balance between cedar mulch and regular soil.
Rock is well-draining because it has plenty of space between the rocks for water to flow. And it doesn’t offer any additional food for termites.
They eat cellulose from the soil, and rocks have none of that. You can buy river rocks in large packs and then replace your soil with river rock.
Just be sure that the water has somewhere to drain to. This doesn’t work in plant beds with no drainage.
4. Pea gravel
Pea gravel is another popular choice and is smaller than river rock. You can use this to maintain a dense appearance in your yard without the large rocks that river rock generally has.
Pea gravel works the same way- it doesn’t have any cellulose for the termites to eat. Pea gravel is also well-draining with plenty of cracks and crevices between the gravel so water can flow.
Once again, make sure you have somewhere for the water to go before you replace your soil with pea gravel. If the water simply collects at the bottom, this will attract more termites to your yard.
And thus, you’ll end up with more flying termites outside your home.
5. DIY termite trap
You can make a cardboard trap for termites at home quite easily. All you’ll need is a single box and some water. This works well for termites outside your home.
Although it won’t do much to kill winged termites, it can help prevent future flying termites from emerging. This trap works well because it provides the termites with their favorite source of food- cellulose.
Here are the steps.
What you need:
- A box
- A gallon of water
How to make it:
- Collapse the box
- Cut it up into a few large pieces
- Stack the pieces on top of each other
- Place the stack of boxes outdoors
- Pour the gallon of water slowly over the cardboard to soak it completely
How to use it:
- Termites will come out and eat the wet cardboard. This will naturally attract them since it’s a primary source of food.
- When there are enough termites eating the cardboard, you can exterminate them using a natural bug killer.
- You can also burn the cardboard if you can burn it in a controlled fire. Don’t do this unless you know what you’re doing.
- Alternatively, you can also use a commercial bug killer to kill the termites. Follow the directions as directed.
6. Boric acid
Boric acid can be found anywhere. You can easily buy this stuff in a department store. Make sure you buy pure boric acid. The substance should be non-toxic and is lethal to termites and many other pests from centipedes to carpenter ants.
You’ll find it as a powder. All you need to do is sprinkle the powder around your home. Sprinkle it directly into the soil where you suspect termites to be nesting.
This will help control and kill them and prevent future winged termites form coming out. Be sure that you don’t use it on edible plants or sensitive plants, as it can harm some of your foliage.
You can also sprinkle boric acid around your home to form a natural barrier against termites. This means in prime places like:
- Around windows
- Under doors
- Around your home’s foundation
- Align windowsill
- Around pet doors
- Next to patio doors
- Around basement vents
- Throughout patio furniture
- On your patio or deck
You should keep children and pets away from boric acid. Even though it’s non-toxic, you should have them avoid contact with the acid when possible.
Replace the acid weekly and directly after any rain. You should “trench” the acid when possible.
Trenching: Where you build up a “wall” up boric acid to keep termites out of your home. The process would be that the termites have to cross the boric acid to get to your home.
Thus, if you trench your home, no termites should make it across the boric acid and into your home.
Again, this doesn’t apply to flying termites. But preventing landed termites will help prevent future flying termites. Flying termites come from regularly grounded termites.
7. Use orange oil
Orange oil has been proven to be highly lethal to termites and is a very effective termite killer. The citrus scent you get from oranges and citrus fruits come from a specific compound found within these fruits.
Note that orange oil only works against Drywood termites, not Subterranean.
That compound happens to be very dangerous to termites. Thus, it’s actually widely used for termite control.
You can buy orange oil at specialist retailers or any apothecary.
After you buy a bottle, pour the oil into a spray bottle if it doesn’t already come in one. The next step would be to spray the orange oil directly onto any winged termite you see.
Spray it on flying termites, grounded termites, and any areas where you suspect termite activity to be present. You can look for the common signs of termites and apply the orange oil directly there. The point is to make the termites contact the orange oil.
Here are some areas you’ll want to spray:
- Termite infested soils
- Walls where termites are present (you can drill holes and spray directly into the wall)
- Termite-infested furniture
- Outdoor patio awnings
- Around the perimeter of your home
- Outdoor patio furniture
- Within your home where termites are present (attic, basement, etc.)
8. Clean up your yard
Practicing basic yard maintenance proves to be one of the most effective means of controlling and preventing termites.
By preventing termites, you can also prevent future winged termites from emerging. This means cleaning up your yard and removing clutter. This method definitely works and is often overlooked by many homeowners.
The reason why termites are present in the first place is because your yard provides a safe haven for them with all they need to survive. If you clean it up, they no longer have a source of food and water.
Of course, this won’t get rid of the current termites you already have in your home or garden. But this will help control and manage future termite infestations by preventing them.
Here are some handy tips to clean up your yard and prevent termites:
- Clean up any wood piles or dispose of them (or cover them)
- Dispose of leaf litter
- Prune excess foliage from trees, plants, and shrubs
- Replace your soil with mulch, river rocks, or gravel
- Remove any tree stumps
- Dispose of any excess wood
- Mow the lawn frequently
- Don’t overwater
- Don’t over-fertilize
- Introduce native predators of termites
9. Attract natural termite predators
There are some natural predators that eat termites.
You can try to attract them if they’re native to your area. Don’t try to attract something that doesn’t live in your state, or else you’ll have a very difficult time getting them to come.
Look through this list and see which ones are already living around your home and research on how you can attract more of them. Then they can come into your yard and help manage your termite problem by eating them up.
Thankfully, there are many things that’ll eat termites. Ants are probably the most common insect that’s capable of eating up termites.
Ants and termites usually are at war with each other. So if you can outnumber the termites with ants, you may be able to use them to eat them up.
Most types of ants will be at constant war with termites. Dealing with ants is probably better than dealing with termites.
So you should do your research and see if you can supplement your efforts by using some ant predators. Then buying them and releasing them in your yard to help control the populations.
Spiders are also all over the world and you should have no problem attracting more of them. Outdoor and indoor spiders both prove to be beneficial for termite control.
Although a single spider can’t eat much, they still help prevent termites from getting into cracks and crannies where they shouldn’t be going. These are often areas where you can’t reach yourself.
Some flies will also eat termites. Although there aren’t as many flies that prey on termites as there are ants, you can easily raise your own fly colonies at home.
This means you don’t really need to do anything special other than set up a fly breeding tank and then letting them loose where you see the termite problem. Outdoors flies will feed on termites as they catch them without hesitation. Don’t overlook fly solutions.
Some reptiles are also able to eat termites. Most of them are frogs and lizards. If you have snakes in your yard, don’t drive them away.
Some of them actually eat termites so you should think about having them help you out. Lizards are also all over the US and will feed on termites to make a quick meal.
And there are also mammals like moles and shrews, both of which are underground and will eat termites that cross their path. There are also surface mammals who will gobble up termites without hesitation.
Birds are the last bunch of predators. If you raise chickens in your yard, they’ll gladly eat up termites. Other common avian predators are sparrows and doves.
Again, the trick is to check which one of these are present in your area and then do whatever it takes to attract them. You can do a search online to see which ones are in your area and what you can do to get more of them into your yard.
Termites multiply rapidly and will start to become destructive to your timber in just a few seasons. This is why you need to act quickly.
List of common termite predators
Using the help from other predators just maybe an assist that’ll help you out on your journey. These other predators are all over the US and you should have a few of these that are native to your area.
Here’s a list of common natural predators that eat termites:
- Assassin bugs
- Parasitic wasps
Nematodes can be purchased as a source of pest control.
While this won’t get rid of winged termites directly, it can help prevent future ones.
You can buy them by the bottle and apply them to your soil. They’ll actually burrow down into your soil and eat up any termites by infesting them just like a parasite.
Nematodes can kill an entire termite colony through a parasitic relationship. They can actually exterminate an entire colony. If you decide to use nematodes, here are some helpful resources you can check out:
What about flying termites outside your house?
If you have swarmers around your home, it could mean a few different things:
- You have termites already and these swarmers have escaped your home
- There are nearby termite colonies and these swarmers are mating
Either way, it could be a bad thing for you.
Because even if your home isn’t currently infested, the swarms outside can pick your home as a nesting site after their nuptial flight.
These are typically Subterranean termites who nest in your soil outdoors. With enough moisture and source of timber for food, they’ll happily make their colonies all over the place outside your home.
The winged termites you find outside your house are from established colonies and are looking for a new site to start a new colony. If they pick your home as a target, you’ll be in trouble.
This could also mean that you already have termites and you should definitely start with a termite inspection. If the swarmers emerged from within your home and are now outside, that’s a sure sign of termite problems.
You’d want to start to check out your home and look for signs of termites. If you know you don’t have any current infestations, you’ll want to prevent those swarmers from choosing your home as their next site.
Preventing flying termites from getting in your home
As we discussed, the main reason why you have them in your home is either that they’re already present inside your house. Or that they’re sneaking in through an entry point.
Here are some common tips to help prevent termites from entering:
- Repair any damaged window or patio doors screens
- Seal up any cracks in your foundation
- Caulk crevices and cracks around your home’s walls
- Seal up attic entryways
- Repair damaged vents
- Eliminate or replace pet doors that are damaged
- Seal up cracks around doors or windows
- Make your yard unattractive for termites (see “What home remedy can I use to get rid of flying termites?” above)
Using these techniques should help you prevent future termite problems.
Note that this isn’t a complete list, you’ll have to do some more research to know everything you need to know.
This is just a good place to start.
What else can you do?
If you have no other options, it may be best to hire a professional exterminator. Termites are not easy to get rid of, especially when they have colonies all over your home and yard.
If you plan to schedule a consult with a professional, here are some things you should ask:
- How effective is termite tenting (fumigation)?
- Are there any dangers to fumigating your home?
- What’s the price of tenting?
- Does fumigation kill termites outdoors?
- Does the pest control company offer any guarantee?
Note that tenting your home doesn’t last forever. Even after you get fumigated, termites can easily just come back into your home and start a new problem.
This is why you need to prevent future termites from coming back after you get your home treated. If you ignore doing anything, you’ll just have more to do with in the future.
Practice basic outdoors maintenance. Set up termite traps. Use natural repellents. Do what you need to do if you’re already planning to shell out a few thousand for a home tenting and suffer through the inconvenience of it.
You want to do everything you can to prevent them from entering your home again.
Here are some other resources you may find helpful:
- Termites (Wikipedia)
- Nuptial flight (Wikipedia)
- Diversity of Termite Breeding Systems (NCBI)
- Termite Genome Reveals Details of “Caste System” (Scientific American)
Did you get rid of the flying termites?
That’s all I have for you.
You should now know everything you need to know to manage, control, and prevent swarmers.
Remember, depending on where you find the winged termites, this should give you a clue to your next steps. If you just have them outdoors, then you should be okay with using the DIY remedies outlined here.
But if you find them in your home, you may need to get professional help to correct the issue.
It all depends on your situation.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below. Or if you’ve dealt with flying termites before, please share your advice!
Also, if you found this pest control guide to be helpful, let me know =]. Consider telling a friend who may be dealing with the same thing.
Thanks for reading!
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.