Why should you care about flying termites?
Well, I might go as far as to say that seeing winged termites are the insect equivalent of having a black cat cross your path – in other words, a sign of bad luck. I’ll explain why.
If you see swarms around or inside your home, it really should act as a warning sign for 2 potential dangers:
- you may already have an existing termite problem
- your home may be at risk of potential termite infestation
The actual swarmers themselves do not cause damage. It is their off-spring, which have the power to damage your property once they land back on solid ground and search for a suitable location to start a new colony. If they are successful within two years they can begin causing significant damage to your home.
Flying termites are one of the clearest signs of a termite problem, and they could mean trouble to you and your home!
Experts are always telling us how difficult it is to tell if you have termites. However, when winged termites emerge from the nest to take flight, all of a sudden, you are presented with a very obvious, and not at all subtle, sign of termites.
Although as some ant species also swarm around the same time of year, you could be forgiven for confusing the two. And, of course, treatments for termites and ants differ enormously.
If you see winged termites indoors, the alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear – You may have an existing problem. In other words, you may have termite damaged timber or damaged furniture in your home.
On the other hand, seeing a termite swarm outdoors may not be too much of a concern apart from the obvious nuisance if you happen to be caught in the middle of it. More on this later.
When Do Termites Fly?
Usually in the spring, summer and periods of humidity. You may have witnessed swarms of winged termites, especially when the ambient air temperatures start to rise. This change in temperature triggers the winged termites to emerge from their nest (within some form of timber) to embark on a nuptial flight.
What is the point of flying termites?
It basically signals the start of a new termite colony. Swarming is the means by which sexually mature termites with wings leave their nest due to overcrowding or lack of sufficient food.
Both male and female winged termites (or alates, to give them their technical name) will take flight and essentially procreate mid-air, before then falling back down to the ground. The now impregnated female has the role of finding a suitable location in which to start a new termite colony as the Queen.
In some species the male might die shortly after this nuptial flight, and in others they will survive to become the King in the new colony (alongside the Queen of course).
Have you ever found discarded wings by a window?
Once back on solid ground, the female of the species discards her wings and looks for suitable wood to attack and build her nest in.
In the case of Drywood termites, this could be timber within your roof – this is where the potential damage begins.. and can continue unnoticed for months and even years!
In the case of Subterranean termites, once back on the ground, they will dig into the soil to start new colonies underground.
How To Reduce the Risk from Termite Swarms
Built-up moisture in wood resulting from damaged timber or timber with ground contact on your property can potentially attract termites. Regular inspection of your home has to be a key activity to protection against a termite infestation.
Actions to keep your home safe:
- Keep mulch away from the foundations of your home
- Regularly check the outside and subfloor areas of your home for mud tubes and damaged wood – common symptoms of a termite infestation
- Practice good housekeeping and maintenance – repair any damaged soffits, roof tiles, or fascias
- Keep basements, attics and crawl spaces well ventilated and dry
- Prevent the accumulation of water – ensure downpipes and gutters are working well to divert rainwater away from your house